Executing property transfers and leases had been a significant issue for those trying to complete real estate transactions during lockdown conditions. Merely getting the hard copy documents to signatories, and having signatures witnessed, when parties and their lawyers are all working from home shielding or social distancing, has become quite a logistical effort. This announcement does not change that as there is no suggestion the Land Registry is any closer to accepting deeds signed electronically rather than with pen and ink. However it does assist where a transaction needs to be registered as, once signed, a photo of the signed document can be used to effect formal completion and then to apply for registration. It is a welcome step in the right direction.
Signing deeds HM Land Registry will accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury signing approach’. This means that, for land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.