eSignatures Can Help Modernise Conveyancing

Today's Conveyancer

21 July 2020

Last week, we shared the news that Mike Harlow, the Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Land Registrar announcing in his blog that HM Land Registry will soon be introducing electronic signatures.

Last week, we shared the news that Mike Harlow, the Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Land Registrar announcing in his blog that HM Land Registry will soon be introducing electronic signatures.

The legal sector can be seen as archaic as most of it is still conducted on paper, and it seems to be difficult to bring it into the digital era.

The fact that HMLR are considering the use of eSignatures, demonstrates the small steps that are being used to modernize this ‘old fashioned’ sector.

Peter Ambrose, Managing Director at The Partnership, said:

“I’m delighted to read the news that Land Registry has accepted that personal signatures are no longer the “gold standard” when it comes to authenticating people’s identity and that alterative signatures will be accepted on Deeds in the future.

“Given the huge amount of property fraud that has been carried out over the years, it’s always struck me as a little odd that wet signatures were treated with such blind reverence.

“However, in reality, electronic signatures are just as insecure as “wet signatures” as there is no way to verify who, where and when they were made.

“That is why we would like to see the use of industry standard digital signatures being the only option, where authorities would stand at least some chance of working out who signed the document.”

In HMLR’s annual report, Chairman Michael Mire argued that by relying on paper-based processes, consumers are rapidly losing their patience with the conveyancing sector.

In the report, he said:

“I believe we will see a greater desire to make property transactions more digital. There are still too many paper-based processes in conveyancing compared with other markets.

“This has been tolerated by consumers up until now but the potential threat of a future outbreak will change those expectations. I think those not yet embracing digital technology in the sector will change the way they work and the current early adopters will want greater adoption, integration and a greater reduction in physical steps.”

Digitizing conveyancing is a topic that has been discussed numerous times, with many in the sector feeling that it has been groundhog day as the same issues appear to get discussed but don’t seem to progress.

Yet one of the positives that has seemingly arisen from the coronavirus pandemic, is the thought of the digitisation of conveyancing.

The report stated:

“This will bring together all the strands of our digital programmes and will demonstrate the scale of our ambition and be a catalyst for transformation across all our services.”

What are your thoughts on electronic signatures?

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