‘As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, on 19 March 2020, the Lord Chief Justice delivered a message in respect of the Civil & Family Courts in which he said: “The default position now in all jurisdictions must be that hearings should be conducted with one, more than one, or all participants attending remotely.” Legal professionals are naturally anxious to know what may be expected of them in practically in preparation for such hearings.’
Falcon Chambers, May 2020
‘There have been two recent thought-provoking articles on whether documents which require a signature to be witnessed (that is, wills and deeds) can be witnessed either “virtually” in real-time (with attestation by the witness on a separate counterpart simultaneously, with the execution being observed online) or after the event (with the execution being witnessed online, and the document then being posted to and subsequently attested by the witness).’
Falcon Chambers, April 2020
‘Drawing on extensive experience of working with different types of e-Bundle, David Turner QC has created a guide setting out the advantages and disadvantages of different types of standalone e-Bundle, a step-by-step approach to their compilation and how to get the most out of them.’
4 New Square, 14th April 2020
‘The past year has seen repeated attempts by the courts to solve the conundrum of electronic working and how it interfaces with outof-court appointments of administrators. Six decisions, all conflicting in whole or in part, none likely to result in an appeal, did little to ease the uncertainty surrounding the validity of notices efiled outside court hours by CE-File. There was no substantive attempt at resolution on the part of the Companies Court or the Insolvency Rules Committee; the Chancellor issued guidance to the effect that notices filed out-of-hours would be referred to a designated High Court Judge.’
Radcliffe Chambers, 8th April 2020
‘On 3rd March 2020, Robert Buckland, the incumbent Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, confirmed that electronic signatures are permissible and legally valid if used in commercial and consumer documents. This declaration followed a Law Commission report, published in September last year, that looked at the electronic execution of documents, including deeds.’
Exchange Chambers, 25th March 2020
‘As every property practitioner knows, s 2(3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (the 1989 Act) requires a contract for the sale or other disposition of land to be ‘signed by or on behalf of each party’. Neocleous v Rees  EWHC 2462 (Ch),  All ER (D) 25 (Oct) was the first occasion on which the court was asked to determine whether an email footer satisfied the requirement for a signature in s 2(3). The issue arose in the context of an alleged compromise agreement between the parties to a property dispute, which was contained in an exchange of emails between their solicitors. Viewed in the wider context of the earlier authorities, and a recent Law Commission report, the decision encourages practitioners to consider how formality requirements in property transactions—and more generally—are now operating in an increasingly digital world.’
Falcon Chambers, 13th March 2020
‘The High Court ruled that it is not permissible for a notice of appointment of administrators by the directors of a company to be e-filed out of court hours. The court ruled that the defect was curable and that the appointment took effect at the time the court opened for business the next working day. This judgment adds to the growing number of conflicting cases about the validity and time of the appointment when notices are e-filed out of hours.
OUT-LAW.com, 6th March 2020
‘In a judgment which disagreed with the recently reported decisions of Re Skeggs Beef Limited EWHC 2607 (Ch) and Re SJ Henderson and Co Ltd  EWHC 2742 (Ch), HHJ Hodge QC sitting as a Judge of the High Court found:
1) Notices of Intention to Appoint Administrators (“NOI”) can be filed at any time via e-filing and take effect at the time they are filed via e-filing.
2) Directors or the Company can make out of hours appointments of Administrators by filing a Notice of Appointment (“NOA”) at any time via e-filing. The appointment will take effect at the time the documents are filed via e-filing.
3) That for the purposes of the computation of the period of 10 business days pursuant to para 28(2) of Sch.B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986, the first business day will be the business day after the date on which the NOI was filed – thus it is a ‘clear days’ calculation.’
Exchange Chambers, 20th February 2020
‘A senior High Court judge has granted declarations making it clear that an online service has not broken conflict of interest rules or the Legal Services Act by helping divorcing couples draft their own documents and not use lawyers.’
Legal Futures, 21st January 2020