“Eventually we may all have our own electronic signatures. That appears to be the way that it will develop in future, but we are not there yet”.
So said Baroness Scotland of Asthal in the House of Lords at the Committee Stage of the Bill that would, in due course, become the Land Registration Act 2002.
It has taken us nearly 20 years and the advent of enforced home working as a consequence of Covid-19 but electronic signatures are finally well and truly here. Of course, electronic signatures can take many forms – from a signatory pasting an image of their manuscript signature into a document to the application of a more sophisticated digital signature – but the type of electronic signature that has taken hold across the real estate sector in the last 12 or so months are what are known as standard or simple electronic signatures generated via e-signing platforms.
Whilst in the initial stages of lockdown we were only able to use such signatures for real estate documents that did not need to be sent to the Land Registry for registration, the simplicity of the signing experience for clients along with the additional layers of formality, security and confidentiality that e-signing platforms provide meant that it soon became clear to us that this was going to become the preferred method of signing for many of our clients. With the Land Registry’s announcement at the end of July 2020 that it would accept for registration documents that had been signed electronically through the medium of an e-signing platform provided certain prescribed requirements were met, the die was well and truly cast. There is certainly no going back now.
If you would like to read more about e-signatures please take a look at the EGi article that we co-authored with Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP “Top tips for rolling out e-signatures”. If you don’t subscribe to EGi you can still access a limited number of articles per month.
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