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Conveyancing Association releases guide to digital and electronic signatures


Conveyancing Association releases guide to digital and electronic signatures

The Conveyancing Association has brought out a guide for conveyancing firms to help them understand and use digital signatures, electronic signatures and e-signature platforms.

The Conveyancing Association’s guide seeks to help companies understand the main differences between digital and electronic signatures, and what is acceptable to HM Land Registry. This includes Mercury Signatures, Conveyancer Certified Signatures, and Qualified Electronic Signatures.

The guide also contains information on how firms can communicate with clients on the importance of such signatures and options available to them. This also covers differences between wet ink and digital signatures.



It also encourages companies to collaborate with lenders to understand specific requirements and preferences.

The guide encourages firms to stay informed of updates and guidance in the area, especially from HM Land Registry, and promotes the adoption of the Simple Electronic Signature Platform Approach.

 

‘Potential to provide a variety of benefits’

Beth Rudolf (pictured), director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said: “The use of digital and electronic signatures within the home buying and selling process has the potential to provide a variety of benefits, not just in terms of helping tackle potential fraud – a significant risk for conveyancing firms – but also with regards to helping speed up the whole process, given that securing signatures can be both labour- and time-intensive, not to mention reducing the 30% of requisitions raised by HM Land Registry because the parties’ names, witness details or choice of witness are incorrect for the execution of the deed.

“Having a quicker and more secure way of doing this clearly brings benefits, but this is also an area that is changing, and could change further in the future with a move towards Qualified Electronic Signatures. It therefore makes sense for us at the CA to launch an initial guide for firms in this area [that] we will update as and when required, but can also be used as a strong starting point in terms of firms educating themselves.”

She continued: “The Law Commission’s report, and the Land Registry Practice Guide 82, highlights what is, and is not, currently legal and acceptable to HM Land Registry, and it’s important that firms have this knowledge, and utilise this information before they progress. Plus they need to understand the differences, the platforms available, and how they might best be integrated into their businesses, and how they communicate with both client and lender to ensure they are fully linked up with their needs and requirements.

“This guide is now available via the downloads section of the website, and we urge members to access a copy to ensure they get the information they need.”

The association is involved in a working group chaired by UK Finance, which allows lenders who will accept digital signatures to include this in their Part 2 responses to the UKF Lender Handbook, which is being digitalised this year to make it more accessible digitally to lenders, advisers and conveyancers alike.





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