New Trend: Blind Signing

New Trend: Blind Signing

Recently, I have come across several times upon the practice of requesting a blind signature from the customer. This involves a member of the trader’s staff entering all the details for the contract into a smartphone, preparing it for signature and handing the device to the customer to sign. On the screen, the customer sees only a space for his or her signature and a 'save’ button. The customer does not see the content of the contract – not even the most important parts like the scope of services or remuneration.

Until now, the customer received a printed contract, which he usually did not read, but had the option to do so. Now he receives a blank screen. If he wanted to see what he was signing, he would have to ask an employee of the trader to show him the contract and – if such an option is provided – he could view the contract on a smartphone screen. That is, instead of the contract being printed on 14-inch A4 paper, he would be able to view it on someone else’s 7-8-inch smartphone screen. In practice, I don’t think anyone will be determined enough to read the contract in these terms.

The law requires us to inform consumers in increasing detail about the features of the product, about the trader’s details, about the possibility of withdrawal, about how to make a complaint. And practice has gone in the opposite direction – a few words from the seller and a signature on a document that one does not see.

I find it hard to imagine that this system of obtaining a signature (without being able to see the draft contract before signing it) can survive without change. There are a few issues that can be dealt with. For example, the obligation to serve documents on a durable medium – they can be emailed even before giving the customer a smartphone to sign. Although, of course, he or she will not have time to read them.

The fundamental problem, however, is that the customer does not know what he or she is signing. He could even argue that the contract has not been concluded because the trader’s statement did not reach him in such a way that he could get acquainted with its content (as required by Article 61 of the Civil Code for effective delivery of a statement of intent). Without service of the declaration of intent – no contract is concluded.

In order to deal with this problem and at the same time reduce the risk of misselling, it is necessary to devise a way of familiarising the customer with the content of the signed document. The easiest solution to implement would be for the salesperson to create the contract together with the customer, so that both can see the screen at all times and, in addition, the customer can have the opportunity to read it at his or her request.

Slightly more advanced solutions can be imagined, such as requiring the customer to read each page of the document and confirm reading by clicking a button or even leaving a fingerprint.

There seem to be quite a few possible solutions. Their consideration is all the more expedient because, in a dispute with a consumer, the court is keen to take into account the objections put forward by the consumer. Let us recall the situation with UFK. Some insurers required policyholders to sign directly under the table calculating the liquidation fees – thus confirming that they had read the table not only as part of a larger document, but that it had been brought to their particular attention. In court, on the other hand, it turned out that, despite this extreme caution, the adjudicating panel considered that the client had been given the contract and had not had the opportunity to read it.


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