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Property transaction using Qualified Electronic Signature in Land Registry pilot completes in just 24 hours

The UK's first property deal using a technology that does not require a witness has been completed this week, taking 24 hours to complete.

The transaction used Qualified Electronic Signature (QES), a platform that is currently being tested as part of a national Land Registry pilot.

Qualified Electronic Signatures do not require a witness, as they include an independent identity check as part of the process.

Proponents of the technology say the digital approach helps streamline the deed signing process, providing greater assurance and security than a normal signature while being quicker, more sustainable and potentially cheaper.

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Law firm Hugh James said that whilst this is currently a pilot only for residential transactions, "it is hoped a similar solution for commercial transactions will follow shortly".

The transaction was completed with the help of Richard Jones from the Hugh James Commercial Property team, together with the firm's specialist Digital Transformation Manager, Nicola Evered.

The property transferors and transferee were present in the room. They were observed remotely by Michael Abraham (QES Product Manager), Patrick Milne (Lawyer) and Andrew Gonsalves (Business Analyst) of HM Land Registry.

In all, the transaction took 24 hours, QES signing, registration at HM Land Registry and the transfer of title becoming legally effective. Without QES, such a transaction would usually take place in a period of between 6-8 weeks.

Richard Jones said the event enabled the firm to discover how the process works in practice and what the experience was like from the customer's point of view.

"There were plenty of learning points, which will be fed into the final stages of the project before being rolled out nationally," Jones said.

He added: "It's a significant step forward for something that everyone in the UK will experience eventually, as we move towards self-verification of deeds like tenancy agreements, mortgage documents and business contracts."

In a statement, Nicola Evered said there would come a time when the firm will be able to take a new instruction from a client, prepare the documentation, and issue the deeds for signing "all in the same day".

Michael Abraham, Product Manager at HM Land Registry, said: "We were delighted to attend the first signing of a transfer using a Qualified Electronic Signature. We hope that the insights provided by this pilot scheme will lead to the development of technology and practice that results in future solutions delivering great user experiences and reduced costs, without compromising any of the assurance offered by using Qualified Electronic Signatures."

Adam Carey

Sponsored Editorial

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