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Wet vs Dry

What do you think about when you hear the word ‘signature’?

Twenty years ago we might have all given the same response, but today, ‘ink on paper’ isn’t the only option for authorising a document or transaction.

Let’s roll back the ages of time and discuss what a wet signature is! A wet signature is created when a person physically signs a document. Yet again I’m referring back to the ‘Ronseal’ treatment as in previous blogs…the word ‘wet’ implies that the signature requires time to dry. Simple right…

So what is a digital signature? Digital and electronic signatures are pretty much identical, but some types of electronic signatures do not have the security features of a true digital signature. Some common uses for digital signatures include electronic tax forms, CFA’S (Road Traffic Accidents) and online applications.

But the question still remains, can digital signatures be trusted?

Digital signatures are marketed as a form of electronic signature that enables the recipient to prove a document actually came from the person that signed the document. But this isn’t necessarily correct.

Many moons ago – before the digital age, Judges in England and Wales when presented with similar cases – usually one party might claim that a contract wasn’t formed because there were no signatures exchanged, ending in the party not having to pay for the cost of the goods­ or services.

A case from Germany illustrates this problem. A seller of items on an auction web site tried to enforce a contract against an individual. The seller claimed they entered into a contract by email to buy goods. The goods were never paid for and the seller took legal action against the buyer. The buyer claimed he didn’t send the email and never signed the email documentation. The seller relied on the signatures within the email, but the law clearly states that the person relying on the signature must prove it is genuine. In this instance, the seller could not prove the buyer sent or typed his name into the emails.

As a result, the seller lost the case. This case demonstrates that from a practical point of view, the recipient needs to be confident that the signature is from the person it claims to be, and that they actually used the signature in question.

What is apparent is that the use of wet, electronic or digital signatures is left to the discretion of each party involved in the transaction. There’s argument for and against…Wet signatures tend to slow these processes down because of their dependence on the physical exchange of paper, but even electronic signatures can become impediments when someone fails to sign a document in a timely manner.

Personally having people, print, scan and email documents creates ample opportunity for fraud. There are too many levels, too many people involved and the efforts are time consuming. A recent case involved a celebrity chef and a Ghosting writing machine which allegedly allowed his signature to be forged and used to sign up for a lease for a top London building.

Many moons ago – before the digital age, Judges in England and Wales when presented with similar cases – usually one party might claim that a contract wasn’t formed because there were no signatures exchanged, ending in the party not having to pay for the cost of the goods­ or services.

So how do digital signatures affect business processes?

Digital and electronic signatures have held the same legal standing as wet signatures. Nevertheless, some organisations and individuals still prefer handwritten signatures.

Businesses across the UK are moving with the times and beginning to use digital signatures; our app allows us to move with them. The digital world is fast pacing and we’re embracing it. At Collect a Case we can obtain digitally signed documentation but would still look to do this by way of a face to face transaction. This way we can verify the identity of the person signing before us and additionally capture evidence of identity such as a passport or valid driving licence that would evidence the true likeness of the signature and thus minimising the possibility for fraud or dispute later on.

The digital document means that a completed contract or order can be with our customer within seconds of the client signing at their own home.

Wet vs Dry was last modified: June 16th, 2015 by simon.proudfoot

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