An issue that had been outstanding for some time was finally resolved in Opinion 470/TA.842rev3, which addressed the signing of copy documents.
A manually signed and dated invoice in one original and one copy was mentioned as a required document under a documentary credit subject to UCP 600. In the additional conditions field, it was stated that all documents were to be manually signed.
Documents were subsequently presented to the confirming bank and settlement effected. However, the issuing bank refused them on the basis that the copy of the commercial invoice was not manually signed.
The draft Opinion had originally been presented at the Banking Commission meeting held in Johannesburg in April 2016, and was the subject of intense discussion. Although a final wording was agreed at that meeting, it was subsequently withdrawn in response to further feedback from ICC National Committees. The draft Opinion was again submitted at the Banking Commission meeting held in Rome in November 2016, and an approved wording was agreed.
Numerous comments were received on this issue, providing various conclusions, but with the majority supporting non-validity of the alleged discrepancy.
Although ISBP 681 was in place at the time of the presentation of documents, it was highlighted that the text in ISBP 745 re-emphasised the ISBP 681 position. ISBP 745 paragraph A31 (b) states that copies of documents do not need to be signed or dated.
As expounded in the analysis to the Opinion, the fact that copy documents do not need to be signed is entrenched in international standard banking practice.
Should there be a necessity for a copy document to be signed, then this must be expressly stated in a credit utilising wording such as: 'All documents, and also copies, are to be manually signed,'
Ultimately, it makes little sense for copy documents to be signed.