Electronic Signatures at the Land Registry
The Land Registry (‘HMLR’) has recently released notification that they plan to accept digital signatures on the paperwork they accept from conveyancers which gives effect to property transfers.
The technology and legal requirements to enable HMLR to accept digital signatures has been in place for some time but, quite wisely, HMLR have been sitting on it before taking the plunge.
There will be five categories of documents HMLR will accept with digital signatures and these include:
- Deeds (like a typical transfer deed parties execute when buying and selling property);
- Discharges (when releasing a charge from a property, like paying off a mortgage); and
- Powers of attorney.
HMLR are keen to assist the progress of conveyancing as a sector and hope these changes, slated to come into effect ‘in the near future’ will assist. While conveyancing was in a relative state of flux during the recent lockdown it is not clear whether digital signatures would have made that much difference to the speed and accessibility of completing documents.
There are also questions of security. Property fraud is already a very real risk to homeowners, lenders and conveyancers to remove a key security feature of ‘wet signatures’ (actual signatures made by the person’s own hand) is a big step.
Mike Harlow, Land Registry’s general counsel, confirmed, ‘our hope is that in the near future qualified electronic signatures [a specific type of electronic signature which is more secure] become more commonplace and the service providers tailor their use to conveyancing. If they do develop to be a successful option for completing property transactions, we will review the use of electronic signatures [basic types of electronic signatures] and may withdraw their acceptance, which would leave only the more secure qualified electronic signatures in use.’
Further news from HMLR is hotly awaited.
If you are looking to buy or sell your home, GoodyBurrett will happily provide you with a free, no obligation quote or maybe you would like to make a new or amend your existing Will and or Lasting Power of Attorney? Our Private Client team would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. You can contact us via telephone 01206 577676 or email [email protected] for more information.