July 13, 2020
Deeds Can be Signed & Witnessed Electronically
The Land Registry just announced they will soon accept witnessed electronic signatures and qualified signatures.
Legalesign's eWitness product, the electronic witnessing software, built on Law Society guidance, will meet the criteria for electronic witnessed documents so that conveyancers can get their documents signed and witnessed online.
General Counsel, Mike Harlow, has written a blog post to explain the changes. The drive is partly down to the pressures of the coronavirus crisis, and the difficulty of wet ink signature in socially distant times, but Harlow also points out the long term thinking behind the push to go digital:
[Conveyancing] has some digital components, but they need to be joined up. Achieving a long-term, sustainable and secure means of signing property transactions would be a significant component of a wholly digital conveyancing process.
The Land Registry blog included detailed guidance for how electronic witnessed documents for conveyancing will work.
We have some reservations around parts of the process, which could be significantly enhanced with a few simple measures. We have now demonstrated these points to the Land Registry.
Currently, the guidance is a consultation only. We await the next iteration and confirmation on the approved process. Given current pressures from the crisis, and the tone from our own conversations, we anticipate the Registry is moving quickly to finalise and adopt the new measures.
Mike Harlow also said that 'qualified signatures' are the long term direction for the Registry. At Legalesign we are developing that capability so customers will be able to transition to qualified signatures. For now, while qualified signatures are rare, online electronic witnessing with advanced electronic signature from Legalesign is a secure and strong way to get documents signed and witnessed remotely.