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Why would a power of attorney need to comply with Land Registry requirements for e-signing?

Electronic signing is becoming increasingly commonplace for legal documents and can be especially useful during holiday season.

It is important to remember that e-signed documents that are involved in dispositions and dealings that will be registered at the Land Registry (e.g. transfer of land, lease or charge) must comply with the Land Registry’s strict requirements for what they call “conveyancer-certified electronic signatures”.

If the requirements are not met, an application to register the disposition or dealing may be rejected and the fallout can be very messy and time consuming.

Real Estate lawyers will be familiar with the Land Registry’s requirements and keep them in mind, but sometimes documents that have not been produced by Real Estate specialists will need to be submitted to the Land Registry. The most commonly encountered is a general power of attorney that is subsequently used for the execution of a Land Registry document; in this case, a power of attorney that is signed electronically must also comply with the Land Registry’s requirements.

What are the Land Registry’s requirements?

  • Generally, all parties must be represented by a conveyancer and all the conveyancers involved must agree to the use of conveyancer-certified electronic signatures. In relation to general powers of attorney, however, only the donor needs to be represented.
  • Conveyancer is defined by the Land Registry’s Practice Guide 82 and, essentially, is someone who holds a practising certificate (although the position is slightly different for some Chartered Legal Executives).
  • A conveyancer (as defined) must be responsible for setting up and controlling the signing process through the signing platform following the steps set out in Practice Guide 82.
  • One time passcodes (identity verification) must be used for all signatories, as an extra level of security.
  • The conveyancer must date the document within the signing platform (i.e. it is not acceptable to print out the electronically signed document and date it in wet ink).
  • An individual conveyancer must certify that the requirements of Practice Guide 82 have been met.

If you are producing a power of attorney and arranging for it to be signed electronically and there is any chance that it may be used in the signing of a Land Registry document, you should comply with these requirements.

For more information on this article, please contact Tamara Paul.

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