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Faster sales loom as Land Registry green lights electronic signatures

Land Registry says needs of Covid led it to take historic decision to bring forward electronic signatures for a wide range of different property transactions.

Nigel Lewis

electronic signatures

The Land Registry has given the green light to faster property sales after making the historic announcement that it is to accept electronic signatures across a wide range of property transactions.

This includes for property sales, leases, mortgages and other property dealings.

Talked about for years, the tech has been brought forward by the needs of Covid and social distancing, the organisation says.

Electronic signatures will have to be ‘witnessed’ by someone present at the time it takes place, and the process requires a conveyancer to upload the deed or lease to an online platform which sends a link to the signatories.

Once they have completed the necessary authentication checks, they then ‘sign’ the document electronically in the physical presence of the witness who then also signs.

The conveyancer is then notified that the signing process has been concluded and, once they have completed on the deed, submits the completed document to HM Land Registry with their application for registration.

Strict requirement

“What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction,” says Simon Hayes, Chief Land Registrar.

“This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach.”

Adam Forshaw (left), MD at leading tech-driven conveyancers, O’Neill Patient, says: “his is a significant step forward for homebuyers, as it means that in principle the entire homebuying journey can now be conducted electronically.

“Even before the advent of Covid-19 and social distancing, there was significant demand for a more tech-driven process.  But one of the biggest problems facing the property sector in lockdown was the ongoing requirement for ‘wet-ink’ signatures.”

Read more about electronic signatures.

July 28, 2020

One comment

  1. Slowly, slowly the wheel of change moves, Covid-19 has awoken all to the fact that digital is all, and the efficiency it brings is second to none. Yesterday co-incidentally, I was going online and reading through legal publications / digital blogs, Todays Conveyancer, Inside Conveyancing, Legal Futures, Law Gazette etc, all had articles on the end of ‘wet ink’ signatures, but I was struck by how antiquated and closed up the legal industry still is.

    There were debates about how safe it was to move away from pen and paper, the dangers of identity theft caused by digital, it was for me very disappointing, and I think this sector is about to be hit by a tidal wave of problems as it is so entrenched on ‘doing things’ slowly.

    Luckily, the click click, I want it now movement the maturing 26 year old plus Gen-Z will just push this old school mentality aside, hunting out digitally good legal practices who have invested and modernised.

    After all a digital signature at land registry at the end of a conveyancing matter is all well and good, but if the sale took three months to go through as the solicitor or conveyancer works in an office reminiscent of days gone by, then progress will remain slow. Time for some joined up thinking and action.

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