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First electronically signed property deal goes through

By Michael Cross >>

(1 June 2022)

Top-100 firm Hugh James has become the first conveyancer to complete a transaction with HM Land Registry with an electronic signature which does not require a witness. 

The transaction was enabled with a ‘qualified electronic signature’ verified by an electronic identity check. The process of transferring title took 24 hours rather than the norm of between six to eight weeks, DocuSign, the technology provider, said. 

The announcement follows a finding by an industry working group earlier this year that such signatures are at least as secure as physical ones, and in most cases legally binding.  

Richard Jones, associate at Hugh James, said: ‘It was hugely exciting to be a part of such an important event, which enabled us to discover how the process works in practice and what the experience was like from the customer’s point of view. It’s a significant step forward for something that everyone in the UK will experience eventually, as we move towards self-verification of deeds like property agreements, mortgage documents and business contracts.’

Qualified electronic signatures (QES) are a type of electronic signature based on public key infrastructure encryption. They include a digital certificate which can be issued only by an approved trust service provider (TSP) that issues such digital certification only after a face-to-face (either in-person or remote) identity verification process.

Doug Luftman, deputy general counsel at DocuSign, said: ‘Our partnership with HM Land Registry and Hugh James demonstrates how an innovative government agency, like the HMLR, has embraced electronic signature and can positively impact an entire industry in its digital transformation journey.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)