Remote execution of documents in property transactions—virtual and electronic signatures
Remote execution of documents in property transactions—virtual and electronic signatures

The following Property practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Remote execution of documents in property transactions—virtual and electronic signatures
  • Introduction
  • Virtual or ‘Mercury’ signatures
  • Law Society guidance on virtual/Mercury signatures
  • Virtual/Mercury signatures and property contracts
  • Virtual/Mercury signatures and property deeds
  • Virtual/Mercury signatures and witnessing
  • Virtual/Mercury signatures and HM Land Registry
  • Electronic signatures
  • Electronic signatures and property contracts
  • More...

Introduction

This Practice Note looks at the use of virtual and electronic signatures in property transactions and considers some of the practical issues which arise when using virtual or electronic signatures for signing property contracts and executing property deeds.

For more detailed content and analysis on electronic signatures and virtual signings, see Practice Notes: Virtual execution of documents and Electronic signatures.

For general content on executing property contracts and deeds, see Practice Notes: Contracts for the sale of land—formation, signature and variation and Property deeds—use and execution of deeds in property transactions.

See also Precedent: Guide to executing deeds and documents in property transactions.

Virtual or ‘Mercury’ signatures

Virtual signings are used in commercial transactions to speed up the process of execution where the signatories are not physically present for completion. A document is sent out for signature by electronic means (such as email), printed off and signed in the usual way. Copies of the signed pages are then returned by electronic means in readiness for completion (as opposed to the hard copy of the document being signed and then returned by post or courier) to the solicitor or other party co-ordinating the transaction.

Virtual signatures are also referred to as Mercury signatures after the Mercury tax case. In Mercury, the court considered the validity and effect of a signature that was taken from an incomplete draft of an agreement and

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