Land Registry announces changes to ease Covid-crisis conveyancing

HM Land Registry has announced two important changes to registration requirements.

The first concerns evidence or confirmation of identity that must be provided when an application is made for registration and the other relates to execution of deeds.

From today, the ‘Mercury’ signing approach will be accepted for deeds and HMLR are also making it easier to verify identity for land transactions.

The ‘Mercury’ approach facilitates virtual signings where one or more signatories are not physically present at the same meeting.

Conveyancers will be able to email the transfer and other deeds to the client, who then, according to the Law Society website, only needs to print, sign and witness the signature page and take a photo of that or scan it before returning it by email for completion.

The rules on identity verification are being temporarily amended and authorised professionals will be able to verify identity by a video call, for example by Skype or FaceTime. Fulleer details of the requirements are on the Law Society website.

“Solicitors continue to work hard on behalf of clients in the face of unprecedented hurdles,” said Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

“These changes help to improve processes for transactions in a difficult environment – they are both pragmatic and proportionate.”

“Even though they are temporary – and HM Land Registry have made it clear that these changes may be modified or withdrawn at short notice at any moment – the measures are nevertheless welcome and should assist those carrying out transactions from large commercial real estate to home moves.

“There still are significant complications with continuing transactions – caused by banking issues, issues arising from compliance with social distancing guidelines, or the unavailability of removal or other services.

“We have worked with HM Land Registry and others to secure these changes to help the profession find workable alternatives so that transactions can continue – provided it is safe to do so.”