We set out our expectations of firms when dealing with the need for 'wet-ink' signatures (i.e. signing a document by hand using a pen).
Agreements: Our rules do not explicitly require wet-ink signatures in agreements, nor do they prevent firms from using electronic signatures in agreements. The validity of electronic signatures is a matter of law. Firms should consider the legal position themselves because we cannot give legal advice.
Firms must also consider any related requirements set out in our Principles for Businesses and general rules. For example:
- Firms should consider Principles 2, 3 and 6 and review the risks and harms of using electronic signatures, and take appropriate steps to minimise those.
- Firms should consider the client’s best interests rule (COBS 2.1.1R) and the fair, clear and not misleading rule (COBS 4.2.1R) to ensure that, when a client signs a document electronically, this does not make it more difficult for the client to understand what they are agreeing to.
Forms: We have recently stated that we would accept electronic signatures for fund-related applications and on all applications from mutual societies. We confirm that firms may use electronic signatures for all interactions with us.