Virtual Document Submission for Land Registry
The coronavirus pandemic created several challenges for legal professionals. After all, strict lockdowns and social distancing measures meant that completing property transactions was difficult. This was primarily because getting clients to sign original documents was hard to facilitate in the midst of a pandemic, due to social distancing limits being put in place.
Thankfully though, from 4 May 2020, the Land Registry began to accept transfers – or other dispositionary deeds – signed by ‘virtual means’.
How do these “virtual means” work?
Known as ‘Mercury signatures’ due to a legal case between Mercury Tax Group and HMRC in 2008, the virtual signing process involves capturing a completed signature page with a scanner or camera and emailing the image to the conveyancer.
The signature must still be signed in pen and witnessed in person to be legally valid.
The process must also be agreed between the conveyancers before the process starts. Then, the following process must be followed closely, and not deviated from:
Step 1: Final agreed copies of the transfer are emailed to each party by their conveyancer.
Step 2: Each party prints the signature page only.
Step 3: Each party signs the signature page in the physical presence of a witness.
Step 4: The witness signs the signature page.
Step 5: Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer. This email must include the final agreed copy of the transfer and a PDF/JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page.
Step 6: The conveyancing transaction is completed.
Step 7: The conveyancer applies to register the disposition and includes the final agreed copy of the transfer and the signed signature page in the form of a single document.
Step 8: The application is processed by HM Land Registry, following the standard operating procedure.
Although the move towards mercury signings has been welcomed by conveyancers, HMLP has made it clear that these changes are temporary. As a result, they may be modified or withdrawn at short notice if, for example, they cause an increased risk to the register.
Interested in learning more about the process of signing and verifying property deeds? Talk to our dedicated solicitors today. We specialise in commercial leases, commercial property and business services. Plus, we possess up-to-date knowledge surrounding all related legislation and policy.
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