Land Registry of England and Wales unveils ‘milestone’ digital identity standard

You can expect an uptick in activity in identity checking services aimed at the conveyancing market after HM Land Registry of England and Wales today (12 March) unveiled a new digital identity standard.
The practice guide advises on the use of biometric and cryptographic technology to form an alternative standard for checking identity: one that will give conveyancers increased certainty that they have discharged their duty of identity verification in connection with land registration applications.
The guidance is intended to provide clarity to the market, paving the way for further investment in and development of identity checking services.
The Registry says that the standard when followed, constitutes what is regarded by HM Land Registry as a discharge of the duty to verify the identity of a party to a registrable transaction.  “A conveyancer who adopts this approach will have fulfilled their obligation to take reasonable steps in relation to the requirement to verify their client’s identity and will reach the “Safe Harbour”. This means that if a conveyancer carries out the steps described in the standard, HM Land Registry will not pursue any recourse claim against the conveyancer resulting from the registration of a fraudulent transaction on the grounds that identity checks were inadequate,” the practice direction states.
Responding to the news on LinkedIn today, Karen Babington, commercial director at Practical Vision Network and manager of Today’s Conveyancer, said the news was: “A milestone for conveyancers we have been waiting for.”
Calum Marlow, business development representative for digital onboarding startup Thirdfort, highlighted a recent €20m property scam and commented on LinkedIn: “Hopefully the publication of HM Land Registry’s Digital ID Standard today will go a long way to creating a more secure means of carrying out client due diligence.”
The Registry stresses that the published requirements are not mandatory, and that “other existing means of verifying identity will always be available.”
In a blog out today, it adds: “Nor do we expect an immediate take-up of digital identity verification tools. The technology market needs time to develop solutions and conveyancers need time to see what is available and incorporate these methods into their processes. We hope the standard, which incorporates digital solutions in place of manual processes, will act as a catalyst for technology providers and conveyancers to collaborate on developing and adopting convenient, modestly priced and more secure methods of digital identity verification.”
The conditions for meeting the standard are set out within the practice direction here:
Digital onboarding and KYC are very much the talk of the day, as Legl also today announced that it has raised $7m Series A. You can read that story here: