Electronic signatures have been hailed as a way for businesses to be more efficient in contract negotiations, by allowing parties to sign documents with speed and certainty. This approach has also been credited with increasing the security of documents and records, which can easily be duplicated and saved in secured locations.
In the recruitment industry, where time is often of the essence, the use of electronic signatures is spreading at a rate of knots. So are there any downsides to this latest development? It will not surprise you to hear that there are some important considerations.
A recruiter’s terms of business may provide for acceptance by a client in a number of ways and may therefore not require a signature on the document. Indeed this is increasingly common. Accordingly, the water could become muddied where the client is asked to give an electronic signature, contrary to the acceptance provisions in the contract. The argument could arise that the terms are not in place until the electronic signature is given.
If so, then valuable candidate information may have been provided to the client without any protection from your terms of business. It is worth noting that it would not be beyond some clients to explore ways to avoid paying an introduction fee, even more so in times of economic difficulty. Recruiters must therefore be certain that new technology does not create an opening for an unscrupulous client.
Commercial benefits must always be weighed up against legal issues, and electronic signatures can create the danger of loss of fees if used without due care. Those wishing to integrate electronic signatures into their contracts process must ensure that their terms are compatible and that the correct processes are in place.
Lawspeed can review your existing arrangements and advise on any contractual or procedural changes required to enable you to take advantage of the most up to date technology without affecting your entitlement to a fee. We will also be discussing the use of electronic signatures and a wide range of issues relevant to use of external devices at our upcoming seminar in London on the 27th November 2013.Why not come?
By Ricky Coleman
Adrian, a highly experienced lawyer, founded Lawspeed in 1997. He is responsible for developing our extensive portfolio of products and services, including the widely used Lawspeed contract templates. Adrian is an expert on “recruitment law” and specialises in contracts, regulatory compliance, employment status and dispute handling. He is chair of the trade body the Association of Recruitment Consultancies, the only lawyer lead recruitment trade body in the UK. Adrian and his co-director Ravi devised Standards in Recruitment as a vehicle for helping drive up standards and compliance in the industry.
Adrian is our lead in discussions with the government over regulatory evolution. Apart from assisting with client support, Adrian’s primary role is research and development into methods of business delivery, our latest service Proterms being his most recent project. Adrian heads our IR35 lawyers team.