HMLR Seek Feedback on Digital Identity Checks

HMLR have published a draft set of requirements aimed at encouraging digital identity checks in the conveyancing sector.

The draft “Safe Harbour Standard” outlines the steps conveyancers are expected to take to verify client identity.

The enhanced level of check is defined by reference to a set of requirements, collectively known as the “Safe Harbour Standard”. The Safe Harbour Standard is founded on the principles within the Government’s Good Practice GuideGPG45. The requirements involve biometric and cryptographic checking of identity and verification that the individual or individuals signing of behalf of corporations are the owner of the property or otherwise a genuine party to a registrable transaction.

The “Safe Harbour Standard” breaks down client verification into 4 main investigations:

  • Obtain Evidence: You must find out if the person you are representing is who they say they are.
  • Check the evidence: You must check that the evidence that meets the first requirement is genuine to ensure it has not been forged and is still current.
  • Match the evidence to the identity: You must check that the person presenting the information matches the photo in the evidence provided.
  • Obtain evidence to ensure the transferor, borrower or lessor is the same person as the owner: This requirement needs to be met by the conveyancer representing a transferor, borrower or lessor. You must connect the client to the property

Outlining the objective of the standard, author Mike Harlow says it is designed to:

  1. Set out a clearly defined category of digital identity checking means that we believe are both achievable and viable with current technology and which offer the most security.
  2. Be clear that this is not a compulsory standard. Other means of identifying parties to a transaction may still be used.
  3. Demonstrate our confidence in the use of digital identity checks by stating that if the standard is met there will be no question that the conveyancer has done enough to identify their clients and that accordingly there is no longer any risk of HM Land Registry seeking recourse for negligence in identity checking.

The article can be read in full here:

Feedback on the “Safe Harbour Standard” has been requested to be submitted by Friday 11 December. Those who wish to respond may to do so by clicking here.

The move follows in the footsteps of the recently revealed Digital Identity Trust Framework, a project which aims to create a centrally agreed framework which would enable all involved in the property transaction to rely on one client verification check to comply with their Customer Due Diligence obligations.

Digital Identity Trust Framework for conveyancing would rely on a government backed identity standard, GPG45: Identity proofing and verification of an individual (GPG45), and accreditation against that standard for Identity Providers. This would allow all organisations in the conveyancing transaction to trust in the verified identity.


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