HMLR to Accept Electronic Signatures

Published 6 August 2020

HM Land Registry (‘HMLR’), the department that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, has announced that ‘witnessed electronic signatures’ will be accepted from 27th July  2020 onwards.

A witnessed electronic signature is the replacement of a wet-ink signature with an electronic one within a standard deed. The witness, who is still required to be present, can also sign electronically.

HMLR has accelerated this move in response to both recent circumstances and feedback from across the property sector.

Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar Simon Hayes, commented: “What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transactions. This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach.”

The process will involve a conveyancer uploading the deed to an online platform which sends a link to the signatories. After various authentication checks, the document is signed electronically and the conveyancer is notified. Once they have effected completion of the deed, it is then submitted to HM Land Registry for registration.

While this change currently only applies in England and Wales, MKB Law remain hopeful that the same measures will be introduced by Land & Property Services (LPS), the body who collect and maintain the Land Registry in Northern Ireland. Should you require any further information on the above please contact the Property team at MKB Law.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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