Law Commission to address electronic signatures and smart contracts in 13th Programme of Law Reform

The Law Commission has announced the programme of reforms it will be working on over the next 3 years.  The projects include:

  • Electronic signatures: there is an absence of explicit case law or legislation confirming that documents executed with an electronic signature satisfy statutory requirements for documents to be in writing and/or signed and/or under hand.  Accordingly, the review will focus on addressing any uncertainty as to the validity of electronic signatures in all types of contracts.
  • Smart Contracts: possibly in tandem with the electronic signatures review, this project will review the existing legal framework in relation to contract law to ensure it facilitates the use of smart contracts established on technologies such as blockchain.
  • Automated cars: the review of the law in this area will identify pressing problems with the existing legal frameworks that may be barriers to the development and use of automated vehicles for private and public use, and consider broader, longer term reforms;
  • Intermediated securities: this project will produce a scoping study, which focuses on the current legal position regarding ‘dematerialisation’ and ‘intermediation’ of shares and bonds ownership. The study will consider any options for reform of the law which may deliver greater certainty for investors, intermediaries and banks.

The overall aims of the projects selected for the programme are to boost global Britain and help enhance the UK’s competitiveness as it leaves the EU, and to improve the way in which the law works for the citizen or businesses.