Q&As

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, or must the solicitor be in physical possession of the ‘wet ink’ signature document?

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Produced in partnership with Shabnam Ali-Khan of Russell-Cooke
Published on LexisPSL on 04/06/2020

The following Property Q&A produced in partnership with Shabnam Ali-Khan of Russell-Cooke provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • 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, or must the solicitor be in physical possession of the ‘wet ink’ signature document?
  • Current situation
  • Potential problems in light of coronavirus
  • Can a document be signed electronically?
  • What about witnessing of documents?
  • Lockdown rules

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, or must the solicitor be in physical possession of the ‘wet ink’ signature document?

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

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