Q&As

In light of coronavirus (COVID-19), when a client has just returned from Italy and thus witnessing security documentation in person is not possible for at least 10 days, would being present via Skype be sufficient for confirming the presence at deed signing? Are there any other procedures in place?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 24/03/2020

The following Property Q&A produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In light of coronavirus (COVID-19), when a client has just returned from Italy and thus witnessing security documentation in person is not possible for at least 10 days, would being present via Skype be sufficient for confirming the presence at deed signing? Are there any other procedures in place?

The Law Commission on Electronic Execution of Documents (Law Com No. 386) concludes that there is no need for formal primary legislation to reinforce the legal validity of electronic signatures on documents but is more equivocal on the question of video witnessing of electronic signatures. The issue arises in particular where the relevant signatures are made upon the execution of a deed. In respect of deeds, section 1(3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (LP(MP)A 1989) provides that an instrument is validly executed as a deed if, and only if, it is signed by an individual in the presence of a witness who attests the signature; or at their direction and in their presence and the presence of two witnesses who each attest the signature, and it is delivered as a deed. The particular difficulty is what is meant by ‘in the presence of a witness’.

This issue arose in Man Ching Yeun v Landy Chet Kin Wong (not reported by LexisNexis®). The matter concerned a

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