eSignatures – The Law Commission’s Statement of Law

eSignatures – The Law Commission’s Statement of Law

Execution with an electronic signature – what does it mean for your organisation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the in-person signing of deeds and documents impractical and created a nation of ‘remote’ workers.

Mercury-compliant ‘virtual signings’ (where the signature page of a hard copy document is signed in wet-ink and a PDF of the signed signature page is typically sent by email to the signatory’s lawyer following the guidance in the Law Society’s 2010 practice note on the execution of documents at a virtual signing or closing) are the preferred method for many businesses executing transaction documents.

However, the use of electronic signature platforms such as Adobe Sign and DocuSign can, in many circumstances, provide a viable, and arguably often more user-friendly, alternative and they are gaining increasing traction in the market.

This article sets out the full text of the Law Commission’s 2019 statement of law relating to the electronic execution of documents in England and Wales.

To help you evaluate the statement in the context of how you may wish to use electronic signature platforms within your organisation, the text has been annotated to provide guidance on the interpretation of the statement’s propositions and links to relevant legislation and case law.

This article is an edited, updated and extended version of an article originally written by Richard Oliphant (consultant, CMS) and published by Practical Law (Thomson Reuters) in March 2020. The statement of law is reproduced under Crown copyright and contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. 

 

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Agile Working Environments

Agile Working Environments

More law firms are looking to move to an agile way of working. How they become more agile means different things to different people, roles and practices. There is, however, one common theme. Agile firms have the ability to make changes fast.

In the new environment law firms can make better decisions more quickly, they can recruit people and grow while keeping their costs to a minimum, they can deliver the technical working environment to their staff when they need it. And all this happens when the mindset of a firm is switched on to collaboration, being outcome focussed and has a willingness to change

Law firm owners have a huge advantage in the marketplace by being agile and so do the employees. Flexible working times and places very often improve productivity and lead to a happier workforce.

The supply chain to a firm is also looking to help firms become more agile. Vendor suppliers should have a roadmap of the future to offer its clients. A firm does not want to be left with so-called ‘legacy technology’ which is cumbersome to upgrade, remove or adapt.

At Kutana, we’re sure that our new version of Kappris, our pioneering print management solution, is a great fit with the agile working agenda, making your way of working more flexible and efficient especially for home workers.

Agile working and adapting your workforce to work smoother and quicker is essential. Our Kappris Efficiency Tool can work out your total cost of ownership. Contact us now to find out more.

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Saving emailed Zip files into iManage

Saving emailed Zip files into iManage

Have you ever needed to save the contents of an emailed Zip file into iManage?

We have now added a new feature in Kappris to allow users to save the contents of an emailed Zip file into iManage as a new document or new version.

Save Nested Attachments

There is a new button in the toolbar called “Save Nested Attachments”

Shows the dialog

If New Version is selected a ‘select document’ dialog is shown and then an ‘edit profile’ dialog, to allow the profile to be updated for the new version.  Users can continue selecting and filing until they hit close.

After New Document

Multiple emails and attachments can be selected and a standard iManage ‘save as’ dialog appears for each selected file if ‘New Document’ is selected.

After New Version
Then the edit profile

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The transformative power of technology

The transformative power of technology

 

Rob Simcock, commercial director of legal software firm Kutana looks at how technology is transforming our lives and working practices.

We’ve all seen how technology can transform what we do, and how we do it. From shopping, to listening to music, to monitoring our exercise regimes, tech has had, and continues to have, a transformational impact.

Some have claimed that the legal sector has yet to see the kind of disruption and innovation that others like banking and accountancy have. In their book ‘The future of the professions’ published this year, authors Richard and Daniel Susskind go so far as to claim that law firms’ working practices “have not changed much since the time of Charles Dickens”.

Now that’s an extreme view, but it does beg the questions: ‘how fit is your business for the 21st Century?’ and ‘are you empowering you workforce with the right tools?’

For any business an effective IT solution is an essential tool for productivity and cost efficiency. Many firms allocate large budgets to internal IT departments to ensure systems run smoothly, but are they getting bang for their buck?

Some new entrants to the legal market like Fairpoint Group – which in the last three years has acquired prominent consumer legal firms including Simpson Millar and Colemans – have driven the innovation agenda by bringing process to professional service.

It’s no coincidence that Fairpoint’s chief executive Chris Moat was at Direct Line when it started to shake-up the insurance sector, and much of what he’s done with Fairpoint’s legal services arm has been around offering a fixed cost service to customers underpinned by an highly efficient, paperless working environment supported by extensive use of IT and workflow management tools.

While Fairpoint has focused on the process of undertaking volume work in consumer law, such a tactic won’t necessarily be applicable to commercial firms dealing with bespoke or complex matters.

There has to be other ways of optimising efficiency.

One way could be to look at operational functions such as print.

Historically, legal firms have been huge users of paper – by their nature even some of the most basic contracts can be very word-heavy. Therefore having a good print management system in place is essential, particularly if you’re a firm handling large volumes of paperwork.

Printing is one of the most basic but overlooked processes for legal businesses. Without an effective management system in place it can be one of the most costly and inefficient processes.

Simple procedures like emailing a client a bill on the correct stationery can quickly become costly and time consuming if electronic stationery is not integrated into IT systems.

It means users have to send the bill to print, scan it back into the system and send it to the client in an email. This not only takes time, and can lead to other problems in the process, but it costs money.

Properly implemented the right print management software can save organisations significant time and money.

Law firm leaders should constantly have plans in place to make print management as cost effective as possible.

Due to time pressures sadly, some IT departments frequently overlook processes and developments that could make their firms more efficient. They fall into a mind-set that something is done a certain way, just because that is how it has always been done, and don’t look for a better solution.

Firms that allow such complacency to reign supreme risk being overtaken by forward thinking rivals who understand the importance of streamlining simple processes to make them more time efficient and cost effective.

At Kutana we are passionate about productivity and are on mission to understand ‘pain points’ for law firms. We’ve used our experience to develop cost saving software, called Kappris, that makes processes and print management as effective as possible. It’s one that has been adopted by firms such as DWF, Taylor Wessing and BLM, so if you want to find out more, please contact us or call 0330 202 0971.

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How agile working is shaping our future

How agile working is shaping our future

Modern businesses survive or die by their ability to adapt to changing environments and embrace new ways of working.

Core values such as customer service or relationship building remain the foundations for successful companies but the best ones are those that grasp new and innovative ways of delivering services.

Forward thinking businesses are always looking to streamline procedures as well as creating the right environments to stimulate creative thinking, encourage collaboration and of course attracting and retaining staff in an increasing competitive landscape for talent.

Agile working is a concept growing in importance and popularity. Major legal firms such as DAC Beachcroft, Dentons and Shoosmiths are passionate advocates.

Shoosmiths is designing its state-of-the art new Manchester office with agile working at its very core. Lawyers will not have their own desks, but will work flexibly in “neighbourhoods”.

In an interview this year with the Manchester Evening News, office managing partner Vaqas Farooq explained the ethos behind agile, stating;” We’ll create areas for desks, but no one will get a desk. Each practice group will have their own neighbourhood where their PAs will be located, but beyond that we have given up a third of floor space to a collaboration zone, so there’s lots of different types of working environments in which to work.

“We want lawyers to come in and actually collaborate with their colleagues rather than sitting at their desk and emailing when a colleague is sat just 10ft away.”

Investment in IT and embracing new technology is a integral to agile working. Martin Arnold of Wedlake Bell told the Law Society Gazette: “‘The use of technology and the flexible working practices that it enables are vital. Agile working is something that is not only possible but essential for a full service law firm that is seeking to achieve the highest level of service integration.’

As firms embrace new ways of working to increase client service, collaboration and efficiency, it makes sense for management teams to look at all areas of operation.

In our experience, areas such as print management can sometimes be overlooked by hard-pressed IT departments managing and implementing change.

This is surely a missed opportunity, since the right software platform for a firm’s print needs can unlock both process efficiencies and significant cost savings, particularly where firms have high print needs.

Just as employees are being encouraged to adopt a flexible approach to their style of working, administration tasks that can be long and laborious are being streamlined to make firms more agile.

Print management is an essential process to adapt to a quicker moving business environment.

At Kutana, we are sure that our new version of Kappris, our pioneering print management solution, is a great fit with the agile working agenda, making your way of working more flexible and efficient especially for home workers.

In a modern business world, where processes and technology are changing all the time, Kappris is an easy to use solution that has seamless integration with Word, Outlook and Excel.

Not only that, while many print solutions encompass a “one size fits all” philosophy that can lead to lengthy configuration or even software rewrites, Kappris can be tailored to a user’s specific needs and can be easily edited as and when upgrades are required.

Agile working and adapting your workforce to work smoother and quicker is essential, but unless all procedures are dealt with in a joined up way, then maybe you’re missing a trick?

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Do users really want more buttons in the Microsoft Office toolbar?

Do users really want more buttons in the Microsoft Office toolbar?

Adding more buttons on the Word toolbar is not only extra work for IT but a real training issue.

 

linkedinThis picture is seen around social media regularly and here at Kutana we understand the joke intended.  However, most people I know have never had a formal education in computing and do not know what a graphical user interface is, let alone it’s TLA (three letter acronym) GUI (pronounced goo-ey).

The finest example of a GUI and one most intuitive to use is Apple’s iPhone.  The screen has easy to understand graphics, the person using the screen knows which buttons to press, and the button is the interface between the person and the smartphone.

There are lots of examples of very smart and intuitive GUIs.  In our professional office environment we are using the most famous GUI of all, Microsoft Windows.  Those of us of a certain age (me included) will remember early versions of Windows and almost three decades later we are so used to using Windows that the interface itself has now become intuitive.

When we want a new document we look for the ‘File, New’ button.  When we want to insert a table we look for the ‘Insert’ menu.  And when we want to print, we look for the ‘File, Print’ button.

The Windows interface was so well known that Microsoft listened to its customers and changed the Office 2007 ‘Office’ button and reverted back to the ‘File’ menu in its later version.  Nobody could easily find out how to print a document!

The Windows GUI works.  It’s what we know and expect.  It makes little sense, therefore, to reinvent the wheel with added buttons and macros to make printing easier.  The problem with customisation is that with each change training has to be delivered to the user.  A simple customised button placed on a toolbar to print a letterhead and a file copy still needs to be communicated to the user.  Yet, we will intuitively look for the ‘File, Print’ or Ctrl+P button.  So the more customisation and helpful buttons that are created actually increases the problems of training the users as well as maintaining the customisations.

Kutana has created Kappris to work intuitively with the Windows GUI.  Users will always look for the ‘File, Print’ button and when they find it they see a very intuitive menu that helps manage the print options.  And to keep consistency, the Print button is in the same place in Word, Excel and Outlook delivering a universal experience, no matter what the print destination is.

The most useful intuitive GUI of Kappris is in Outlook.  Take a look at the video here  and see how easy it is to reduce error printing and save time with lengthy email threads and multiple attachments.

With Kappris virtually no training is needed at all.  As the quote says, “A graphical user interface is like a joke”.  Worse than that, reinventing the wheel poorly it’s a waste of everyone’s time, energy and money.

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If you’d like to chat to us about how our technology can make a difference to your firm, or would like to join our mailing list for our blogs or events, then please get in touch.