CHEQUE TIME IS UP: THE RISE OF THE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Stephen Mason, in the second edition of his work ‘Electronic Signatures in Law’, sums up the balance between his work and the long established and companion of renowned, ‘Byles on Bills of Exchange and Cheques’ (28th edition), when he writes that a colleague once referred to electronic signatures as the ‘burning branch of obscurity.
Mason’s friend was “indicating, indirectly, that although electronic signatures in their many forms are used daily by millions of people millions of times”, the understanding surrounding the topic (like bills of exchange) was negligible! This work by Mason is a particular relevance to those who study the formation of contracts in an electronic age where the old rules tend to be changing by reason of modern necessity.
Mason succeeds here with his aim to bring the topic of electronic signatures into focus with students, lawyers and non lawyers in an age where the common law notion that it ‘never had much truck with technological objections’ could not be more unfortunate as the global market place dominates.
Mason’s book, itself, is an excellent exposition of practices across the world with 16 detailed chapters, five appendices and a glossary.
He provides an in-depth analysis of:
• what constitutes an electronic signature
• the form an electronic signature can take
• issues relating to evidence, formation of contract and negligence; and
• guest authors writing chapters to cover Canada, Germany and the USA.
THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
As the global economy takes full control this century, ‘Mason on Electronic Signatures’ reviews these ‘electronic signature acts’ throughout the world and investigates how they have been amended by examining a number of important cases which have been reported in the following jurisdictions which may be of interest to your firm.
They are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England & Wales, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America.
This second edition is very timely giving a practical and whilst comprehensive guide to the understanding of what an electronic signature is.
The book starts with a clear overview of the concept and history of all forms of signature and provides a fantastic insight into the way the world now views this method of asset exchange since Victorian times and is very much a book for the twenty-first century.