In July, HM Land Registry announced its historic decision to accept witnessed electronic signatures on deeds, provided they follow certain rules, in effect removing the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction.
The rules are (see Gowling WLG’s useful note here:
- The parties have agreed to use electronic signatures
- All parties have a conveyancer acting for them
- A specific process is followed when setting up the document for signature (including witness details being entered before the document is circulated for signature and the witness being physically present to witness the electronic signature).
- Two factor authentication must be used when signing (through the use of a one-time password issued by the signature platform).
The Partnership used InfoTrack’s SignIT, electronic signature software, to have the vendor sign deeds alongside a witness.
Peter Ambrose, CEO at The Partnership commented, ““We’re delighted to be the first business in England and Wales to submit deeds using electronic signatures. It has been a long time coming but recent events make this a must for law firms. I am very confident in the security levels provided. The technology acts as a witness and the certificates issued upon signing demonstrate a security you just don’t get with wet signatures.”
He added: “For us at The Partnership, who for years have offered a truly online approach with our client portal, this isn’t just a historic moment for the conveyancing profession, it also allows us to streamline the process and offer a truly digital experience from start to finish.”
Scott Bozinis, CEO at InfoTrack said: “We have offered SignIT for a number of years and during lockdown it became essential for law firms across the UK and we invested in making a number of enhancements. In fact, we saw a 400% increase in usage in May alone. Further to HMLR announcement, we moved quickly to build a solution with The Partnership being the first firm to use. Both law firms and their clients will experience a convenient, time-saving solution that is robust and adheres to the rules published by HM Land Registry.”
You can read here the new practice guidance for conveyancers on how to use electronic signatures after seeking feedback from across the sector.