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Electronic signatures for conveyancers

Thursday 09 July 2020

HM Land Registry has today, 9 July issued draft guidance on the introduction of e-signatures in order to tackle the issues that legal formalities have caused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electronic signatures are quite widely used across the UK with the law evolving to incorporate the fast-paced changes of the online world. However, some legal documents, including transfers and other dispositions of registered and unregistered land, must be signed by individuals on paper in the presence of a witness. One exception is HM Land Registry’s digital mortgage but this is only currently available for remortgages.

In HM Land Registry’s blog, Mike Harlow, General Counsel, Deputy Chief  Executive, and Deputy Chief Land Registrar states that they have been working on the use of e-signatures for some while and are pleased to announce the first steps of their introduction.

Guidance and next steps

The draft practice guidance sets out the basis on which they would accept electronic signatures.

It is said that the current e-signature providers should be able to quickly meet the criteria set out in their guidance. On top of the other practice changes HM Land Registry has already introduced, the guidance ‘should provide conveyancers with immediate help in meeting the difficulties of working with paper in the current crisis.’

HM Land Registry is encouraging those with any comments on the new guidance to submit their views to them before 18 July.

In the next few weeks HM Land Registry will issue their practice note on how Qualified Electronic Signatures may be used.

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