The Scottish Law Commission recently amended its draft Execution in Counterpart etc (Scotland) Bill 2013 ("the Bill") following a seminar in which opinions were canvassed on a previous draft. The Commission has suggested that its final Report on Execution in Counterpart, which will incorporate the final version of the Bill, will be published around Easter this year.
Essentially, the Bill brings Scotland into line with England in relation to the execution of multi-party documents. At the moment, it is common practice in England to allow parties to an agreement to sign the agreement remotely. Each party signs a counterpart document which is then delivered to the other party or parties. In other words, there is no obligation on parties to attend at one location to sign one document. On the other hand, in Scotland there is confusion surrounding this issue with many unsure as to whether or not this practice is appropriate. The Bill clarifies the situation by expressly setting out procedure which should be used when executing multi-party documents.
The Bill states that parties may sign their own counterpart and then deliver it to the other parties. Once each counterpart has been delivered, the document may become effective. Delivery may be done by electronic means and the signatures can be digital.
It certainly seems that the Bill allows a sensible approach to what can often be a convoluted process. Assuming it is passed, it should make matters far easier for parties to multi-party agreements.