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 adopt electronic signing (eSigning) platforms to carry out an electronic witnessing (eWitnessing) process, which up until now has been done manually.
So, what is eWitnessing? How does it work?
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 eSign 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 eWitnessed 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)
- Mortgage documents
- Shareholder agreements
- Loan agreements
- Partnership agreements
Source: gov.uk (subject to change at any time)
Interview with HM Land Registry
What are the benefits of eWitnessing?
So, how can eWitnessing benefit businesses such as law firms and conveyancers?
The time of an employee often represents a significant cost to any business. Time spent on administrative tasks related to processing documents can be significantly reduced by adopting digital strategies such as eWitnessing and eSignatures.
Witness and sign digitally
eWitnessing simplifies contract signing by digitising the paper process, allowing witnesses to sign remotely.
Fast and convenient
The user-friendly process ensures that witnessing and signing documents is quick and easy to complete.
Secure audit trail
eSigning and eWitnessing documents allow for high-level encryption and a full audit trail, including a timestamp and IP address.
Ensure higher confidentiality for both the signer and the witness and receive legally compliant documents.
How does eWitnessing work with Yoti?
Yoti’s eWitnessing feature provides the security and authenticity required by law for documents to be admissible in court, along with having a positive impact on those who are regularly faced with document processing and signing.
With Yoti, eWitnessing is streamlined and simple:
Step 1: Upload the document that requires witnessing and select the fields that are to be filled by the signer.
Step 2: The signer will receive a one-time password and can then fill in the relevant details in the presence of a witness.
Step 3: The witness will receive a one-time password and is then able to access the document and fill in the relevant information.
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.
Try it out for yourself with our eSignatures 30-day free trial or get in touch using the form below.
Want to know how your firm can benefit from eWitnessing? Contact our legal expert James
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