Digital signatures appear to be a work in progress with further modification likely.

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Land Registry agree to accept electronic signatures

Land Registry have announced that they will shortly be accepting two forms of digital signatures:

(a) Electronic Signatures;

(b) Digital Signatures.

Electronic signatures will replace wet signatures. A deed will be electronically signed and electronically witnessed as it normally would with pen and ink.

Digital signatures are secure signatures where the signatory is required to be identified before signing and the document is encrypted so it cannot be varied or modified. Digital signatures will not be required to have a witness.  Digital signatures appear to be a work in progress with further modification likely.  

The main requirements in respect of electronic signatures are that:

1. The parties have agreed to use electronic signatures.

2. All parties have a conveyancer acting for them.

3. A specific process is followed when setting up the document for signature (including witness details being entered before the document is circulated for signature and the witness being physically present to witness the electronic signature).

4. Two-factor authentication must be used when signing through the use of a onetime password issued by the signature platform.

5. The conveyancer who lodges the application does so by electronic means to include a Pdf copy of the completed deed.

6. The conveyancer lodging the application provides the following certificate, “I certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the requirements set out in Practice Guide 8 for the execution of deeds using electronic signatures have been satisfied”.

The parties will have to get used to preparing deeds with the identity of signatories and witnesses in the document before execution.

Further, mobile phone numbers will need to be provided to receive the one-time signing password.

Overall, the announcement will be welcomed by the property industry and will certainly assist with the speed and accuracy of the registration process.

Please note: The above article was written on 13 Jully 2020 and does not constitute legal advice.