Cheeswrights is closely following all government precautions and relevant advice. Our overriding focus is to protect the health and wellbeing of all our staff and clients.
These are of course unprecedented times and there is understandable anxiety amongst our friends and clients in the City of London and globally in all the jurisdictions where the many legal and other documents we authenticate are destined to be produced. We appreciate that this anxiety is felt both at a personal as well as a business level.
We have robust business continuity plans in place to maintain services for our clients and will maintain our critical functions to the best of our capability whilst never compromising the safety and welfare of our staff and clients.
Current government instructions require that where possible employees work from home, which raises issues with regards to the remote or electronic execution of documents, including the
notarisation and legalisation of such documents for use in overseas jurisdictions where there is often a strict requirement for physical presence. We will work with our clients and other professional colleagues in the City of London and beyond in finding solutions to these challenges.
Subject to compliance with the notarial practice rules established by our legal regulator, the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and our strict obligation to act ethically in accordance with the law as it stands, we will be as flexible as possible in adapting to any changes to usual business practices during these unprecedented and challenging times, in particular those made necessary by remote working. These short-term changes will inevitably involve the enhanced use of modern technology and informatics, for example through the use of video conferencing and the execution of documents with electronic signatures.
We have the capability to authenticate documents remotely and electronically subject, however, to certain constraints and limitations. Whilst electronic signatures are valid under English law, as recently confirmed by the Lord Chancellor following the Law Commission’s recent report on the electronic execution of documents, in the case of cross-border documentation there exists a wide discrepancy in the formalities for the acceptance or otherwise of documents so executed. There are circumstances in which remote or electronic signatures are not able to be or should not be used, and English law does not currently permit us to take or administer oaths and statutory declarations or witness deeds unless we are in the physical presence of our client.
We will be providing relevant and ongoing assistance to clients as appropriate or required.
For further assistance please do not hesitate to consult your usual contact at Cheeswrights – all emails are being monitored even if you receive an out of office reply. Alternatively, contact our Managing Partner directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Luis Hyde-Vaamonde at Luis.email@example.com.
2 April 2020.