Electronic witnessing in line with HM Land Registry guidance

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Person using Yoti's eWitnessing feature on laptop as per the new guidance

Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR) has released new guidance that allows for registration transfers and certain other deeds to be signed electronically in the UK.

This means that solicitors and conveyancers can now carry out the document witnessing process using Yoti eSign.


What are conveyancer-certified electronic signatures?

Conveyancer-certified electronic signatures which were recently referred to as eWitnessing, like physical witnessing, is the third-party overseeing of the signer, with the added benefit of being undertaken electronically. This means that, with an eSignature platform, witnessing documents is made much easier for law firms and conveyancers alike, with processes that usually take days being completed in a matter of minutes.


The new guidance: what’s changed?

Electronic signatures in the UK are currently accepted for many types of legally binding contracts and documents. However, registration transfers and deeds previously needed to be in written form and legally required a witness to be physically present during the signing.

The Law Commission concluded in the new guidelines that electronically signed and witnessed contracts and documents are admissible in court provided that the signer is able to authenticate the document and that all formalities relating to the execution of the document are satisfied. You can read more about the new guidance in the UK, here.


Which documents can be signed electronically in the UK?

  • A deed that affects one of the dispositions referred to in section 27(2) and (3) of the Land Registration Act 2002
  • A discharge or release in form DS1 or form DS3
  • Equivalent deeds in respect of unregistered land
  • An assent of registered or unregistered land
  • A power of attorney other than a lasting power of attorney (see Lasting powers of attorney)
  • Guarantees
  • Mortgage documents
  • Shareholder agreements
  • Loan agreements
  • Partnership agreements

Source: gov.uk (subject to change at any time)


What are the benefits of conveyancer-certified electronic signatures?

With eWitnessing comes a number of the same benefits that many digital processes have, such as being more time efficient and reducing paper use. But what does Yoti eSign do differently?


Privacy is priority

Thanks to Yoti’s limited document view, the signer can confidently have their documents witnessed in the knowledge that their details are blocked from view. 


Safe and secure

By using a one-time passcode, unauthorised people will not be able to access the document. This, alongside a secure audit trail to trace all unique identifiers of both the signer and the witness means that you ensure your documents are traceable and only in the hands of those who need it.


Compliant and legally binding

All documents signed using Yoti’s eSigning are legally binding and compliant with eIDAS, ESIGN Act and UETA. The team at Yoti has also worked closely with HMLR to shape eWitnessing guidance so that we are fully HMLR compliant.


Easy and hassle-free

With our flexible API and easy-to-use portal, our eSignature tools are easily integrated into your business processes to ensure simple eWitnessing.


How does eWitnessing work with Yoti?

  1. Step 1: Upload the document that requires witnessing and select the fields that are to be filled by the signer.
  2. Step 2: The signer will receive a one-time password and can then fill in the relevant details in the presence of a witness.
  3. Step 3: The witness will receive a one-time password and is then able to access the document and fill in the relevant information.
  4. Step 4: Once the signer and the witness have completed their details, the sender will receive confirmation that the document is signed, along with the time, date and details of the witness.

By securely digitising your operations, Yoti’s eSignature and eWitnessing features can simplify the paper process and transform it into something much more efficient.
When sending your documents electronically, you can rest assured that your confidential information is shared with the right people and the right people only.


Webinar with HM Land Registry on electronic witnessing

Yoti’s James Lancaster and Sam Rowe hosted Michael Abraham and Robin Malpas from HM Land Registry during the webinar focusing on the eWitnessing legality.