Electronic signatures and the Land Registry

7th June 2021

The Land Registry is currently accepting electronically signed deeds under Practice Guide 8. The Land Registry will accept electronic signatures on deeds that effect a disposition referred to in section 27(2) and (3) of the Land Registration Act 2002 (the LRA) (amongst others). This includes deeds which grant a legal charge over property, as section 27(2)(f) of the LRA refers to the grant of a legal charge.

The Land Registry permits one party to sign electronically, and the other using wet ink - in which case counterpart deeds should be used.

If the electronic execution is being witnessed then the witness must be in the physical presence of the signatory when they electronically sign.

Requirements for electronic signature

In order to use electronic signatures, the below steps must be followed including a signing process.

  1. All parties must agree to the use of electronic signatures and a signing platform in relation to the deed.
  2. All parties must have conveyancers acting for them, except that in the case of a lender’s discharge or release, only the lender need be represented.
  3. A conveyancer must be responsible for setting up and controlling the signing process through the signing platform.
  4. The six step signing process must be followed (see below).
  5. When registering the deed at Land Registry, the conveyancer must lodge the application electronically, and include a PDF of the completed deed. The conveyancer must also include in the application a certificate stating “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.” An example is provided at Appendix 3 of the Practice Guidance.

Six step process

  1. The conveyancer controlling the singing process, i) uploads the final version of the deed (with plans and annexures), (ii) populates the platform with the name, email address and mobile number of the signatories and witnesses, (iii) highlights the fields that need completing in the deed and by whom, and in what order.
  2. The platform emails the signatories to tell them the deed is ready to sign.
  3. The signatories access the deed on the platform via the email, and inputting an OTP (containing at least six numbers) sent to them by text by the platform.
  4. The signatories enter the OTP and sign the deed, with the date and time being automatically recorded by the platform’s audit trail. A witness must be physically present to witness the signature.
  5. Once the signatory has signed the deed, the witness will receive their email and OTP to sign the deed. They will sign in the attestation clause and add their address, and the time and date will also be recorded.
  6. Once the signing process has concluded, the conveyancer controlling the process dates the deed within the platform on completion.

Read more on amending facility agreements here.

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