If a solicitor is working from home and wishes to avoid giving out their personal address, can they accept scanned executed documents from their client by email in order to complete a property transaction that is registrable at HM Land Registry?

If a solicitor is working from home and wishes to avoid giving out their personal address, can they accept scanned executed documents from their client by email in order to complete a property transaction that is registrable at HM Land Registry?

Produced in partnership with Shabnam Ali-Khan of Russell-Cooke

 

Current situation

In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many solicitors and conveyancers are now working from home. As a result most documents such as leases and transfers are being sent to clients by email for execution rather than by post. Since the lockdown rules were slightly relaxed earlier in May there are more people physically going into work provided they do not need to rely on public transport for their journey. Therefore, some documents are now being posted out.

 

Potential problems in light of coronavirus

A key problem arises at the other end. How can a client execute a document if they are restricted by the lockdown? They may face difficulties finding an independent witness as well as issues leaving their home to post the document. This could be a serious issue if they are self-isolating. One of the questions practitioners are faced with is are such documents capable of being signed electronically?

 

Can a document be signed electronically?

HM Land Registry has been producing regular guidance during this pandemic to assist. Essentially a ‘wet signature’ will still need to be provided by all parties to deeds in relation to property transactions that are registrable at HM Land Registry. However, HM Land Registry has stated it will accept the Mercury signing approach which consists of the following steps:

• STEP 1: Final agreed copies of the deed are emailed to each party by their conveyancer

• STEP 2: Each party prints the signature page only

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