Will The Land Registry Accept Electronic Signatures?
It appears the Land Registry have finally realised that the property sector needs to catch up with the rest of the legal world in adopting the use of electronic signatures.
As a result of the lockdown restrictions, the use of e-signatures has increased significantly allowing commercial transactions to continue to progress despite the difficulties facing businesses during these unprecedented times. However the Land Registry, whilst accepting a more limited version which still required a ‘wet ink’ signature, were reluctant to accept electronic signatures for deeds due to the understandable potential for fraud.
It now appears that the Land Registry have responded to increased calls for electronic signatures to be accepted by issuing draft guidance with a view to accepting witnessed electronic signatures shortly. The draft guidance is aimed at conveyancers and intended for use only where all parties are represented. The guidance envisages use of an electronic signature platform and for security and to combat fraud all signatories will need to receive by text a one time password of a minimum of six characters before they can access the deed.
It is important to note that this is draft guidance, but it is a significant move towards the use of electronic signatures in the land registration process. There has been pressure for the Land Registry to accept the increased digitisation of transactions in the modern world for some time and finally there appears to be some recognition of its importance. The Land Registry has requested comments on the draft guidance before 18 July 2020 and it is hoped the use of electronic signature will be adopted shortly thereafter, but we will keep you updated.