Smartcard with digital signature
From 1 November 2021 we are making changes to our Smartcard service. Smartcards with digital signatures will no longer be issued to all members as a matter of course, and instead will only be issued on request.
ID only cards are available for all members who require a Law Society photo identification, but do not need a digital signature service.
Why have we made these changes?
Having reached the end of the first six-year cycle of Smartcards, we took the opportunity to review the whole Smartcard service. Part of the review looked at how many members were using their cards and for what purpose (digital signature or just as identification). On that basis, we decided to move away from issuing cards to all members to an 'on request' approach. To help cover the cost of the service we are introducing a charge for the digital signature.
Why is there now a charge for the digital signature?
The first iteration of our digital signature scheme was created as an integral part of an all in one Smartcard which also functioned as the official ID for all members of the Law Society. Given that all members had equal access to the digital signature scheme, whether or not they chose to use it, and as it was a test of emerging technologies we subsidised the scheme so that there was no additional charge to members at the point of delivery. Now that we have a better understanding of how and when sectors of the profession would make use of a digital signature, we have changed the service to be available on request rather than as standard. With reductions in the practising certificate fee to support members through the pandemic, and to support investment in other areas which will benefit the wider membership group, the Council and Board of the Law Society have agreed that the costs of the digital signature scheme should now be passed on to those who choose to use it. We are confident that £110 (+VAT) per year is competitive compared to commercial alternatives, but members can of course choose a different provider which meets their business requirements.
ID only cards are available free of charge and will be valid for 10 years from date of issue.
We are introducing an annual fee of £110 (+VAT) for a Smartcard with digital signature. The card will be valid for six years, although the digital signature will have to be renewed after the first three years.
If you have a current Smartcard digital signature which has not yet expired, you do not need to take any action. The annual fee will only apply to new or replacement digital signatures issued from 1 November 2021.
|Type of card||Smartcard with digital signature||ID only card|
|Use||Qualified electronic signature (the highest level of digital signature available). It can also be used as a photo ID card.||Photo identification card|
|Costs||£110 (+ VAT) a year||Free|
|Who will use it?||Members of the Law Society of Scotland who wish to sign contracts, missives, etc, electronically.||Members of the Law Society of Scotland who wish photographic ID to prove their identity for example when visiting court, prisons, police stations etc.|
|How long is it valid for?||The card is valid for six years. The digital signature is initially 10 years. valid for three years, with the option to renew for another three years. After six years both card and signature would need to be renewed.||10 years|
|How to apply||New digital signatures will be issued from 1 November 2021. Applications can be made using the Smartcard Submission Form in the members area of our website.||Complete the Smartcard Submission Form in the members area of our website, and choose ‘ID only’ from the drop down menu.|