The current situation requires a somewhat radical change in how to conduct business and transactions. The Smartcard can help your business adapt to that change. Its electronic signature is a so-called Advanced Qualified Signature (AQS) which turns your transactions paperless while keeping them secure. This is the equivalent of a witnessed signature under the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995.

As a consequence of working from home, many members are using their digital signatures for the first time. To help you get started, we put together a list of the common queries and their answers. Further down on this page you will also find a list of guides and how-to instructions concerning the set-up, applying and validating the Smartcard signature. If you have any further questions, please contact smartcard@lawscot.org.uk.

You need a so-called card reader to enable communication between the chip of your card and your computer in order to apply a signature. You were issued an external card reader with USB connection when you collected your Smartcard. A complete installation guide on how to set this up can be found below. (Step 1 in "Installation and Troubleshooting") However, if you have your own card reader, e.g. one that is already built into your laptop, you can use that one instead and don't need to install another.

Note to Gemalto users: If you otherwise use a Gemalto card reader, this will unfortunately not work with the Smartcard; the systems are not compatible. Likewise, if you have Gemalto installed on your computer in general, you will not be able to use the Smartcard and its signature. Please use another computer, or uninstall Gemalto on your machine, if this is feasible.

Your PIN is the 6-digit code you came up with and entered yourself when you collected your Smartcard. It is only stored on the chip of the card; we do not have access and we cannot reset it like the banks do.

If you are unsure, don't try and remember what you did when you picked up your card. Instead, imagine you had to come up with a 6-digit code right now, this instant. Take a note of that code, and then test it. You will need the so-called card manager to do so. (see Step 2 in "Installation and Troubleshooting " below) The card manager is not needed to apply the Smartcard signature to a document, but it is a handy tool to have when it comes to checking or changing your PIN. How to do that can be found here: How to test your PIN & PUK.

We can provide you with a list of colleagues in your business who are in possession of an active Smartcard & signature. You may have to re-arrange some workflows (e.g. designated signatories) but you will be able to conduct electronic transactions. Please contact smartcard@lawscot.org.uk.

You can renew an active Smartcard signature at any time. A signature is initially valid for 3 years; if you renew before the deadline, the clock starts anew and you will have a further 3 years validity. Please see "Renewing the Smartcard Certificate" below.

You cannot, however, re-activate an expired signature. This would require a face-to-face meeting with an Operator, since we would effectively create a new signature from scratch with you.

Yes, you can. There are two validity dates at play here: One is for the signature on the chip of your card (3 years), the other is for the card itself, the plastic, as ID (6 years). Regardless of the date printed on the card, the signature will be active as long as it is within the 3-year cycle.

We are preparing a replacement programme to exchange the physical Smartcards, the plastic, nearing the end of their 6-year cycle later in the year, and we will of course take the current situation into account. Further information about the replacement will be published on the website, once available.

Anything where you would normally put pen to paper. The Smartcard signature is a so-called "Advanced Qualified Signature" (AQS), the highest available level of electronic signatures. It is self-proving, i.e. with the exception of wills, you do not need a witness to your signature. According to the eIDAS Regulation (EU Regulation No 910/2014), Art 25 (2), an AQS has the same legal value as a handwritten signature. See also the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995.

Every electronic signature can of course be interrogated. Please refer to "Validating a Smartcard Signature" below on how to check the validity of the signature in the document you received. In the case of the Law Society's Smartcard signature, additional reassurance is provided by the fact that only a qualified solicitor, registered with the LSS, and in possession of a valid practising certificate can obtain a Smartcard signature. The signatory is also named in the AQS itself, information that is available when interrogating the AQS.

In short, you are covered. Lockton's have issued a statement concerning the Master Policy and Smartcard users; you can find here.

At the moment we, are unable to conduct the necessary face-to-face meetings. These are required due to the advanced nature of the AQS - one of the standards to make it "advanced" is that the means to apply the signature, i.e. the token on the card and the PIN, are under the sole control of the signatory at any given time. Under the eIDAS Regulation (EU Regulation No 910/2014), we therefore cannot issue signatures remotely; it has to happen in the presence of the signatory and only s/he can enter the necessary codes (PIN & PUK). Any compromise in the process risks invalidating the signature.

However, our signature partner and Certification Authority for the LSS Smartcard signatures, the Spanish Bar Association, is in talks with the Spanish Ministry of Justice about a relaxation of the eIDAS rules given the current situation. It is not possible to put a time-frame to that, but when the situation changes, we will of course inform the profession.

Using your Smartcard

Advice and guidance for members on how to use your Smartcard and digital signature.

Validating the Smartcard signature

Instructions on how to verify a Smartcard signature plus a short description of how to check a solicitor's practising status.

Installing your Smartcard

Step-by-step guides on how to install card reader and certificates.

Renewing the Smartcard Certificate

The digital signature on your Smartcard is valid for three years before it needs to be renewed. Here are step-by-step instructions.

About the Smartcard

Information about what the Smartcard is and how it can be used by Scottish solicitors.

Smartcard Partners

Our partners in the Smartcard project.

Scottish solicitor status check

Check if an individual holding a Smartcard is currently entitled to practise as a solicitor in Scotland.