Government announces temporary changes to identity verification and signing deeds

The Government has announced that from 4 May it will temporarily introduce new methods for verifying a person’s identity and for signing deeds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new rules, in addition to conveyancers and chartered legal executives, verification can now be undertaken by people who work, or have worked, in certain professions including:

  • retired conveyancers, chartered legal executives, solicitors and barristers
  • bank officials and regulated financial advisers
  • medical doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons
  • chartered and certified accountants
  • police officers and officers in the UK armed forces
  • teachers and college and university teaching staff
  • Members of Parliament and Welsh Assembly members
  • UK civil servants of senior executive officer (SEO) grade or above
  • Magistrates.

To assist with social distancing measures and the official ‘Stay at Home’ guidance, verification can now be done via a video call.

The rules change, will also allow the Land Registry to accept deeds that have signed using the “Mercury signing approach’.

For land registration purposes, this means that a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person, although not via a video call, and can be captured using a scanner or camera to produce a PDF, JPG or suitable copy of a signed signature page.

It is hoped that the changes will help property transactions progress more smoothly within the rules of the current lockdown.

If you require assistance with a property transaction under these unique circumstances, why not speak to our property team today.