HM Land Registry Release Electronic Signature Guidance

HM Land Registry has released details of its new guidance on “Accepted Signatures.”

The guidance covers the types of signatures accepted by HMLR for forms, restriction consents and certificates, defining the options for conveyancers.

Wet ink signature: A wet ink signature is a hand-written pen to paper signature.

Mercury signing: A defined process by which parties can sign without being physically in the room; involving the printing, signing and scanning of the documents.

Electronic signature: An electronic signature can take multiple forms and may involve the use of a digital signing platform. Examples of electronic signatures include:

  • facsimile signatures (generated electronically)
  • word processed signatures
  • advanced electronic signature as defined in the UK Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulations

Witnessed electronic signature: A witnessed electronic signature is one where the deed is signed using an electronic signing portal, but the signature is witnessed in person.

Qualified electronic signature: Defined within the UK eIDAS Regulations as “data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign… Qualified electronic signatures… are created using more sophisticated technology, meet a higher standard of security, meet stricter validation criteria, and are supported by a more detailed certificate” (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-eidas/key-definitions/

In response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic HMLR announced it would accept witnessed electronic signatures for the execution of deeds.

At the time further discussions were underway to explore the potential introduction of “qualified electronic signatures” however the guidance is clear that at this stage these are not accepted with HMLR saying:

We do not accept qualified electronic signatures at the moment. We’re working on being able to accept these signatures as the next stage of our work on electronic signatures.

The full guidance on “Accepted signatures” is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/signatures-accepted-by-hm-land-registry

With a full list of documents and accepted signatures available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/signatures-accepted-by-hm-land-registry/accepted-signatures

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