New electronic signature clause supports increasing digitalisation in shipping

Overview

BIMCO’s Documentary Committee has adopted a standard electronic signature clause that allows parties to safely use electronic signatures in their contractual arrangements.

The new clause allows for electronic signatures of the contract and any document to be signed in connection with the contract. It also enables the parties to obtain a physically signed copy of the contract if needed in jurisdictions that do not recognise electronic signatures.

“The shipping industry is becoming increasingly digitalised. It is important that BIMCO supports this development by making a contractual solution available for electronic signatures in the industry,” says Søren Berg, Project Manager at J. Lauritzen, who chaired the drafting committee developing the clause.

The clause has been drafted as a short and simple standard provision for inclusion in charter parties and other contracts. It contains a definition of “Electronic Signature” which has deliberately been kept broad to take into account that the parties may have different ways to sign electronically and to ensure the clause a long lifespan in a fast-moving area.

Berg was accompanied on the drafting committee by Kelly Vouvoussiras (Rio Tinto), Jack Richards (Braemar ACM Shipbroking), Helenka Leary (Gard), Susan E. Clark (Nordisk Legal Services) and Jonathan Page (Wikborg Rein).

“The way we handle, distribute and sign contracts is changing a lot and with the use of electronic signatures constantly increasing, it is good to have a pragmatic and legally sound clause to include in contracts,” says Kelly Vouvoussiras, Corporate Counsel – Commercial at Rio Tinto.

To develop a full “code” for how a contract should be signed when the parties have agreed to include the electronic signature clause, the clause also contains a provision on counterparts.

The electronic signature clause is available for use on SmartCon and can also be found on the BIMCO website along with its explanatory notes.

Find out more about BIMCO's new electronic signature clause in this short video by Søren Berg of J. Lauritzen who chaired the committee drafting the clause.

Christian Hoppe
in Copenhagen, DK

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