On 15 February 2021 the Land Registry updated its guidance on the use of electronic signatures. The guidance confirmed that, until further notice, the Land Registry will accept registration transfers and certain other deeds that have been signed electronically, provided its requirements have been satisfied. In summary, it requires that:
- all the parties agree to the use of electronic signatures and a platform in relation to the deed;
- all the parties have conveyancers acting for them;
- a conveyancer is responsible for setting up and controlling the signing process through the platform;
- the required signing and dating process is followed;
- the conveyancer who lodges the application does so by electronic means and includes with the application a PDF of the completed deed. However, where the application is for first registration, a print out of the PDF, certified to be a true copy of the completed deed, can be lodged; and
- the conveyancer lodging the application provides the following certificate: “I certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the requirements set out in practice guide 8 for the execution of deeds using electronic signatures have been satisfied.”
Where a witness is being used to execute a deed, the witness must be physically present when any authorised signatory signs the deed and the Land Registry has recommended that conveyancers include a statement to this effect where the witness is due to sign. Conveyancers are also advised to retain with their conveyancing file a copy of the completion certificate or audit report produced by the electronic signature platform at the end of the signing process.
Where “mixed signing” needs to occur (one in wet ink, the other electronically), this can be done by way of counterpart deeds.
We have developed an execution toolkit specifically tailored for registered providers of social housing and their wider group structures. This toolkit will enable organisations to ensure they have complied with statutory and regulatory requirements when executing legal documents (including deeds and contracts). It includes a review of the organisation’s existing governance documentation, advice on its existing and future arrangements, and user-friendly execution checklists that can be tailored for each entity in the wider group to ensure group-wide compliance. If you would like further information on the toolkit, please do get in touch.