Land Registry respond to Covid-19 with updated ID and Signature Guidance
On Monday 4th May 2020 the Land Registry released updated guidance in relation to their ID verification requirements as well as an updated method for singing and completing documents remotely.
As part of the ongoing industry response to the disruption caused by Covid-19 the Land Registry have just updated their guidance in relation to the execution of deeds and their verification of ID requirements for unrepresented parties.
So how can I sign deeds remotely?
The amendments made to the Land Registry practice guide 8 state that until further notice execution of documents will be accepted using the methodology previously put forward by the Law Commission. First of all, the parties to the transaction need to agree to use the new method dubbed “Mercury signatures” (named after a case involving HMRC in 2008). Once this has been agreed the following steps should be followed:
1. The final engrossment documents should be emailed to each party by their solicitor together with a request for the documents to be executed.
2. Each party prints the signature page only, rather than the usual need for the full document to be printed and signed.
3. The execution of the signature page is then carried out in the usual manned (such as being in the physical presence of an independent adult witness).
4. The witness then signs the same signature page as the party who is executing the document.
5. The signed signature page is then scanned and sent together with a copy of the full final document to the solicitor acting for that party. At this stage it is important for the full document to be attached and for confirmation to be given by the signatory that the signed signature page is the relevant signature page from the attached agreed document.
6. The transaction is completed in the usual way by the solicitors acting for each party.
7. When it comes to registration of the documentation the Land Registry requires that the final agreed copy of the deed is submitted as part of the application with the signed signature page(s) attached to the document to form a single completed document.
8. Once the application has been submitted it will then be processed and registered by the Land Registry in the usual manner.
As execution using the “Mercury signature” method needs to be by agreement of the parties, if you would like to make arrangements for this form of execution we would suggest that you let your solicitor know as soon as possible to avoid any delay in agreeing necessary amendments in this regard.
What about verifying ID during the lockdown?
In many transactions one party is not represented by a solicitor, and in such instances it is usual for evidence of identity to be provided to the Land Registry using either Form ID1 (for individuals) or Form ID2 (for corporate parties). These forms had required conveyancers to meet with the person requiring identification face-to-face, and for certain documents to be provided and reviewed. During the lockdown, and possible onwards during any transition phase, the Land Registry will be accepting forms ID1 and ID2 where the identity of the person has been verified by a video call. Instead of hardcopy photos being annexed to the application instead conveyancers will be required to provide a screenshot photo of the person whose ID they are verifying and for an additional form ID5 to be completed.
In addition further amendments have been made to allow non-conveyancer professionals (including retired legal professionals, medical doctors, dentists and teachers amongst others) to verify ID. The temporary forms to be used in this instance would be an ID3 (for individuals) or an ID4 (for corporate parties). Furthermore the usual requirement for an ID1 or ID2 form to be dated within 3 months of completion has been extended, so that form which were completed up to 6 months before submission to the Land Registry can still be relied upon.
How long will this last
Please be aware that this guidance has been issued on a temporary basis, and therefore the Land Registry may modify or withdraw the guidance at short notice, so if verification of ID will affect your transaction, please be aware that guidance during the course of the transaction.
If you require further advice regarding the impact of Covid-19 on property transactions, or any other Real Estate matter, please contact Steph Richards in our Real Estate department. You can also email your query to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01276 686222 or visit https://www.herrington-carmichael.com/.
This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.
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