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Back to Basics: How England is Asking Parties to Sign Documents Not Pieces of Paper

May 24, 2010

By Keith Wilson

Those who work in the commercial world will be familiar with the request to sign the signature pages ahead of closing a commercial transaction. This has now become far more difficult in England.

A tax dispute that ended up in Court in England (R (on the application of Mercury Tax Group and another) v HMRC [2008] EWHC 2721) has raised significant questions on the previous practices in England and forced changes to the way in which document execution takes place. In that case a signature page attached to an earlier draft had been signed. It was then, with the signing partys approval, attached to a later version of the deed. HMRC argued, among other things, that the document had not been validly executed and that it had no legal effect. The Court agreed.

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