Chilcotts Law has a history dating back to the 1800’s, whilst being known as a traditional firm we are always looking to keep up to date with technology and ways to make things easier for our clients.
We have recently signed up with leaders in this field DocuSign, to be able to offer this electronic way of signing contracts to our clients.
Contracts can now be signed in most cases in less than 24 hours, many less than an hour.
Traditional methods in obtaining “wet ink” signatures take a minimum of two days, but sometimes a week, depending on the postal service.
- Ease and speed of contracting—digitising the entire contract process with a digital workflow allows greater consistency in how document signatures are handled, the ability to digitally route the document, define signatory and witness signing order and to track the status of the document;
- Removing the need for hard copy documents, printing and scanning at any stage
- Auditability of the transaction details (signatories, timing, content) and clear evidence of which version of the document is being signed (which English case law relating to deeds suggests is important)
- Admissibility in evidence—under both EU and UK law, electronic signatures are admissible in evidence
- Reduced risk—additional verification steps can be used to confirm the identity of the signatory and witness
- Environmental benefits of using less paper.
Where we see the use of electronic signatures being the greatest benefit, is in being able to potentially speed up the conveyancing process.
It must be noted that the first requirement is that all the parties to the disposition or other dealing, including any parties who are not signing, are represented by a conveyancer.
This requirement is subject to three exceptions: only (i) the lender in the case of a mortgage, discharge, or release, (ii) the personal representatives in the case of an assent, and (iii) the donor in the case of a power of attorney, need have conveyancers acting for them.
See HM Land Registry guides below:
Electronic signatures accepted by HM Land Registry (PG82)
HM Land Registry Practice guide 8: execution of deeds
Practice guide 82: electronic signatures accepted by HM Land Registry
A really good feature is the ability to get the witness to the signature captured. Electronic witnessing is where a witness is physically present with the signer and witnesses the application of a signatory’s electronic signature and then adds their own electronic signature to confirm that witnessing.
There is a good explanation provided by DocuSign Electronic signatures and electronic witnessing in the UK
Electronic signatures are not available for use on every deed or document at the moment, but it is evident that the H M Land Registry has taken very positive steps, in a relatively short period of time, towards modern methods of signing. We believe that this is a clear indication of where the future lies. In the not-too-distant future that there will be an increased uptake in the use of systems and platforms providing electronic signing and this will be welcomed across more than just the Property industry.