More than 150 years ago, case law stipulated that a party to a document could not testify to the execution of such a document either.  While there is no legal obligation for a witness to be “independent” (i.e., unrelated to the parties or purpose of the document), given that a witness may be required to make impartial statements about the signature, it is considered a best practice for a witness to be independent and, ideally, not a spouse, Partner or close family member of the person signing the certificate. There is no specific prohibition that prevents minors (under the age of 18) from serving as witnesses, although it is safer to use an adult witness to avoid a subsequent challenge to the reliability or mental performance of the witness due to his or her age. For example, if a document is signed by a neutral witness of a third party, it is useful to prove that the document was signed voluntarily and not by undue influence, coercion or coercion. Most legal documents don`t need to be attested, but that doesn`t mean they shouldn`t be. Legally, a witness must meet the requirements set by your jurisdiction, but most of the time he must be a witness: in any case, you must examine the specific laws to see what they require. For example, deeds of sale do not have to be signed by witnesses. After our article on electronic signatures earlier this year, we reflected on the challenges of implementing agreements in a “socially distant” world. One such challenge concerns the practical aspects of witness signatures.
In this article, we look at who makes an appropriate witness for signatures and how to navigate witness requirements under English law. Even if this means a larger number of signatories, it may still be preferable if each party has to sign in the physical presence of a witness.  In the past, deeds were used for many types of contracts. However, over time, their use has been restricted, so that they are now mainly used only for agreements in which there is no counterparty or in which this is required by law. It is good practice for the witness to print his name and indicate his address and profession in the certification clause so that he can be easily contacted in case he needs to be called upon to solve problems related to the execution of the act. The law requires that the witness be present when the performing party signs the document. The 2019 report of the Legal Commission on the electronic execution of documents confirms that this means a physical presence: in this post we will explain to you what a witness is, why it is important and what to do if you do not have one. However, given the practical difficulties of being a witness at this time, a party may wish to verify whether a witness is really necessary.
There are two ways to avoid a request for a witness in English law: “. Current law requires that a document be signed “in the presence of a witness” requires the physical presence of that witness. This is also the case if the person performing the act and the witness perform/testify to the document with an electronic signature. Alternatively, some documents must be attested, such as . B a will and a will. For the above reasons, a witness is required when a person performs an act or a company or LLP performs an act through a single signatory. There is no clearly prescribed method for confirming signatures that is established by law, but the generally accepted approach is that the witness: (1) observes the sign of the sign; and (2) “testify” to the signature by signing a declaration in the document (commonly referred to as a certification clause) confirming that the deed was signed in his presence. The witness is not required to vouch for the identity of the signatory or to read the document. It is preferable that your witness is not involved in the contract you are signing and that he or she does not receive any benefit from the agreement listed in the contract. For example, a witness in your will should not be a beneficiary of your estate. The standard rules for the execution of acts by companies and PLLs in English law offer several options for the valid execution of documents. Although the execution of an agreement by a director (or member) requires a witness, the company or LLP can avoid this by switching to the two-signatory option.
To perform through two signatories, a corporation must have either two directors or a director and secretary of the corporation; and that an LLP has two members. To determine if your document needs to be certified, check your jurisdiction`s requirements for the document you are signing. Only the two people who enter into the agreement (such as an IT contract or SLA) must sign it. But there are a few exceptions and things to keep in mind. Most agreements do not need witnesses to sign them. Most agreements don`t even need to be signed by the parties signing the agreement. Most agreements do not even require a written form. Keep in mind that some documents require the signature of both a witness and a notary and that they must not come from the same person.
Clients often ask us if a witness needs to sign an agreement. Is a witness signature required? What are the rules for a contract witness? There are often two fields in agreements that a witness can sign in addition to the person signing the agreement (or representing the legal entity entering into the agreement). Does the law require a witness to sign? This becomes an even more important issue, especially if the agreement is signed with electronic signatures, as it is difficult for a witness to see someone else signing with an electronic signature. They are often not in the same physical place or in the physical presence of the other. I don`t even think it`s worth reminding the parties that a contract is binding. If someone does not know the effects of signing a contract, they should not be allowed to enter into a commercial contract. As mentioned earlier, most contracts do not explicitly require you to have a witness. However, for documents that do, it is important that you complete this step, as you may not be able to use your document as intended. Therefore, in English law, the ideal witness is a person aged 18 or over who is not a party to the deed, who has no commercial or financial interest in the subject matter of the deed and who has no close personal relationship with the person whose signature he or she testifies. A witness signature may be useful for evidentiary purposes.
If a party to the agreement later says that they did not sign, the person who observed the party`s signature may be called to confirm this. The witness can confirm that the specific person signed and that this is the signature they made. .