Author: Zhanna Koval

Electronic signature validity

How do electronic signature platforms work?

There are simple platforms that allow you to sign documents and deeds. All the signatories will access the documents via a link. After the parties sign a document, the platform will receive core information such as the signatory’s email address, IP address, date and time of access. When all the signatures are complete, the document is saved as a read-only PDF. Even if any changes to it are made, later on, there will be highlights to them.

The validity of  a contract that has been signed electronically

 For the contract to be valid in common law there is a need to establish offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to be bound. The question arises whether an electronic signature can actually represent an intention to be bound. The platforms usually indicate that in order to agree to contact, a person needs to apply their signature into a special box. Therefore, the signature from the platform, if used together with other supporting documents, is sufficient evidence of an intention to be bound by the contact.

The validity of a deed that has been signed electronically

 For the deed to be valid in common law it must be in writing, expressed to be a deed, delivered a deed (usually electronic delivery suffices) and executed as a deed. The deed has to be witnesses in order to be executed. Although there is no statutory law that would shed a light on the issue, the Law Commission has issued a report into electronic signatures. The first finding is that the combination of different legal instruments shows that electronic signature usually meets all the statutory requirements. Second, an electronic signature can actually be witnessed. Witnesses can see the signature of the other person and add their signature as well. However, there is still a requirement of the physical presence of the witness.

Where electronic signature will not be valid

  • Documents that need to be registered at Land Registry (electronic signatures do not meet statutory requirements)
  • Documents executed by foreign companies

 

The validity of an electronic signature

 There is a body of case law that establishes that the contract is valid if entered into by the exchange of e-mail. Therefore, it can be assumed that if a typewritten signature was sufficient then the court will not find an electronic signature through a platform to be invalid.

Conclusion

We, therefore, conclude that the contact and a deed that otherwise fulfil all the criteria but were signed digitally would fulfil the criteria for validity. Especially, the Courts are likely to take into account the fact that at the moment physical signatures do not seem to be feasible since most of the organisations are closed. However, as there is no case law or statutory law, electronic signatures for deeds will always entail an amount of risk. Therefore, if it is possible then we advise using physical signatures for deeds.

The information above is provided for reference only. Please consult with our specialists prior to taking any actions, as every situation is different.

 

You can contact us on:

contact@sterling-law.co.uk

07 305 966 531

 

CLAIMING SICK PAY – WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

According to the Acas advice, every employee or worker is eligible for any SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) in they need to self-isolate and thus stay home due to: having coronavirus or its symptoms, if someone in their household has coronavirus or its symptoms, or if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS 111.

However, as an employee you must tell your employer you are unable to work as soon as you can, provide with the reason why, and also let them know for how many days you are likely to be absent. Your employer should be flexible about you providing evidence from doctors, as you may not be able to get a sick note while you are self-isolating.

«By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor» –
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19#what-to-do-if-an-employee-or-a-member-of-the-public-becomes-unwell-and-believe-they-have-been-exposed-to-covid-19

Agency, casual and zero-hours workers can get SSP if they meet the eligibility conditions, namely:

  • they earn on average at least £118 per week before tax;
  • they’ve told their employer about their condition within any deadline the employer has set or within 7 days.

Recently the UK government has decided that everyone with taking sick leave/self-isolating due to coronavirus or its symptoms is eligible for a sick pay from day 1 If you are, however, self-employed, or earn less than £118/week, according to the Budget, you can “more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance”: “For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support”, you will be able to claim Universal Credit  “without the current requirement to attend a job centre if they are advised to self-isolate”.

Still have your questions or worried? Let us know by contacting us. Just send us a message here, or reach out to contact@sterling-law.co.uk. 07 305 966 531 is available to those who prefer messengers.

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DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT

A new case – 3 Jan 2020

On what kind of beliefs can an employee claim discrimination?

Most people are aware that it is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender, race or nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability.

An employment tribunal within the last week re-affirmed a fundamental principle of the Equality Act 2010, namely that the concept of ‘belief’ is not confined to just the Abrahamic religions, or any other religions, as some would have us believe!

‘Belief’ includes any philosophical belief, provided it is held genuinely and seriously, and includes, as in this case decided on 3rd January 2020, veganism. The claimant here was a vegan who believed that this was the reason that he had been victimised in the course of his employment. The employee had ethical objections to the way in which his employer behaved.

Of course, vegetarianism is included as well, as is, for instance, atheism and agnosticism and paganism. No belief has any privilege over any other – which I would say is exactly what you would expect in the law in a modern civilised secular society.

Kuldeep Clair

Senior Employment Solicitor

If you need expert advice on an employment issue, contact our consultant employment solicitor:

Kuldeep Clair – 07484 614090 or kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

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EQUAL PAY DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT

Just on Friday, a prominent new case was reported in the news involving equal pay.

It is prominent because it involved a claim by a well-known BBC journalist, Samira Ahmed, against her employer, on the basis that she had been underpaid for several years, for presenting one programme, amongst others. Her equal pay ‘comparator’ or rival BBC male journalist, was Jeremy Vine. Salary figures at the BBC had been made public as a matter of policy, and these showed that Mr Vine had been paid at a rate considerably more per programme, even though they both have been similarly experienced in their fields – over 25 years or so.

Of course, the BBC attempted to offer an alternative explanation for this disparity to the employment tribunal, but it was not accepted by the tribunal on the facts before it. The programmes in question were very similar and required similar skills. If the opposite had been accepted, the case would not have succeeded. Samira Ahmed’s success means that she will receive back pay for perhaps six years amounting to a six-figure sum. Six years is the maximum period for which an employee can claim back pay in an equal pay claim.

Our senior specialist employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair comments, “I have found that claims for equal pay commonly turn on the ability of an employer to provide an explanation for the difference in pay. This can be difficult, but sometimes an explanation may not even be necessary, because the work simply is not easily ‘comparable’ at all. So there can be potential problems in both bringing and defending claims, unless you have expert professional representation.

Kuldeep dealt with an equal pay claim last year for a claimant which was settled for a substantial five figure sum. He was opposed by a prominent City firm, defending a national hospitality company. “The defence initially put forward by the employer was essentially the same”, says Kuldeep, “namely,  that my client’s work was of a different nature and could not be compared to the dozen male managers who occupied comparable positions to her. But they had a change-of-mind two weeks before the tribunal hearing date, when they realised the strengths of my client’s claim.

Kuldeep goes on to note that this year it is exactly 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which was a turning point in anti-discrimination legislation. “We have now moved forwards a long way since the days when women were expected to either stay at home and do the dishes, or at most possibly expect to take menial work at whatever pittance of a rate was offered to them without any argument.

For advice on any employment issue, Kuldeep Clair can be contacted on 07484 614090 or kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

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ARE MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT? ARE THERE ANY LEGAL PROVISIONS THAT LEGALIZE AUTHOR’S RIGHT ON IT?

So, mathematical equations are not protected by copyright, because they were created for public use. It would be unfair towards everyone and it will create a monopoly! Moreover, it will restrict the free-flow of information and can be used by only the owner. Every person should have an opportunity to use mathematical equations for personal or business purposes. The law gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and typographical arrangement of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used. The key point is that you can be inspired by the form of expression, but not an idea of the expression. Unfortunately, it is often becoming difficult to see the difference between the idea and expression. When the expressions are inseparable from the ideas, those expressions are not protected.

Thus, if you would like to create a math book, you can use mathematical equations that are all available for you. However, be careful with personal diagrams and illustrations because they are protected under copyright law. By adding an original idea, it can be protected under copyright law.

In Eastern Book Company & Ors v. D.B. Modak & Anr, the court set up the two condition:

  1. Sweat of Brow; and
  2. Modicum of Creativity.

Meeting these criteria, the work will be considered to be ‘original‘ and will be protectable under the copyright.

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Katsiaryna Pazniak

contact@sterling-law.co.uk

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