Digital signing – the internet and the grateful goats

They were the best of times for lawyers. They were the worst of times for goats.

Goatskin parchment was sought after as the material onto which lawyers inscribed, in beautiful copperplate script, in dark black ink, indentures, debentures and deeds poll. Such were the days of Dickens.

As a result of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 (now part of the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017), goats are no longer required to sacrifice their hides to enable the legal profession to create elegant legal documents. Electronic fonts and typeface now replace black ink, copperplate script and goatskin, as lawyers take advantage of leading edge, online document creation technology.

I’m talking of course about ADLS WebForms, which has become part of the daily life for many lawyers, their secretaries and support staff. This week, ADLS has enhanced this leading-edge technology by adding a comprehensive digital signing service. More significantly, ADLS has engaged and consulted with a panel of legal and IT experts to:

  • create special workflows to cover the digital signing process. Effective and enforceable digital signing is a business process – it’s not just about placing a digital mark in an electronic document;
  • enable digital signing to seamlessly integrate within WebForms; allow external, non-ADLS legal documents to be uploaded to WebForms for digital signing;
  • design a process to enable deeds to be digitally signed and witnessed; and
  • provide for certain documents to be negotiated between parties online as part of the ADLS Digital Signing Service.

Electronic signing for land registration has been in place for 15 years and mandatory for eight. But the uptake of digital signing outside of this environment has been slow.

WebForms has developed a range of tools (practice notes, protocols for lawyers, an On Demand demo webinar and an online easy to follow user guide), to enable lawyers to have confidence in using and deploying digital signing for clients, both in the office and at a distance.

As more lawyers move to achieve the paperless office and digital storage of files, documents and information, digital signing becomes an essential ingredient to achieving this goal.

The ADLS Digital Signing Service is fast, secure, trackable, and very cost effective. It includes:

  • a digital certificate to seal the signed document, so any subsequent tampering is detectable;
  • a detailed signing log to track the path to the signed document; and
  • a means to collect and record and, in some cases, verify, evidence of identity.

All of these ingredients provide a more robust digital signing solution.  


Sanderson Weir – signed up and ready to go ...

Boutique Auckland law firm Sanderson Weir has this to say about the new ADLS WebForms digital signing service:

“For some time, we have watched one lender client use digital signing of loan agreements to great benefit. The customers have embraced the speed and efficiency of signing documents provided to them by the lender online. The lender has been able to convert loan offers to settled loans fast and effectively. But just as importantly, the robust process designed to verify identity, link the verified customer to the digital signing, and seal the document to detect any tampering after signing, has ensured that the signing is as valid and effective as a ‘wet signed’ document. Perhaps more so.

“We have been waiting for a similar process to be made available for us to use. We have looked at several third-party systems, and have yet to discover one that gives us the same level of confidence to deploy digital signing within our firm. Having now seen a demonstration of the new Digital Signing Service in ADLS WebForms, we have signed up and are keen to start using it. We see the ability to upload our own documents for signing, arrange for clients to sign before a witness who can also sign digitally, and confirm the validity of New Zealand driver licenses and New Zealand passports online, as great enhancements. We are now working to design an AML/CFT process around this last step. We are also keen to make digitally-certified copies of many signed paper documents and store these electronically, instead of taking up expensive office storage space.” 

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