The explanatory notes say that, owing to the amended first company law directive, 68/151/EEC, copies provided in hard copy need to be certified unless the applicant chooses otherwise. Apparently that is not the case for electronic copies, although subsection (4) seems to imply that that might be required, but will be dealt with in another, as yet unspecified way. Will the Minister elaborate on that?
In responding to the provisions of the amended first company law directive, the clause makes it clear that unless the applicant chooses otherwise, copies of information provided in hard copy must be certified as true copies, but electronic copies must not be so certified. Subsection (3) provides for the evidential status of certified hard copies in legal proceedings. The Secretary of State will have a power to prescribe by regulations methods of certification for copies provided by electronic means.
I was asking whether the Minister could elaborate on the regulations in subsection (4), as I am a bit confused about what they might relate to.
As I said, the Secretary of State will be able to prescribe the manner in which a certificate is to be provided, where a copy is provided in electronic form. Is the hon. Gentleman asking me what sort of certification is likely to ensue from those regulations?
I am just working it out. Electronic signatures might be one way forward, but the regulations are bound to be consulted on, and I do not doubt that the hon. Gentleman will have substantial input into them.