A welcome bit of news coming from Land Registry this week: scanned signatures can now be used in order to register deeds, by adopting the 'Mercury signing' protocol (a reference to the case R (Mercury Tax Group Ltd) v HMRC [2008] EWHC 2721 (Admin)). But wait, there's more - Land Registry have also relaxed their rules (temporarily) on the identification process for individuals. You're really spoiling us now, Land Registry.

The way the Mercury process works is that:

  1. the agreed documents are emailed to each party
  2. the parties print the signature page only
  3. this is then signed and witnessed (the witness does still need to be physically present though)
  4. the parties then email their solicitor the final-form deed and a scan of the signature page
  5. the solicitors then complete as usual
  6. then solicitor then registers with Land Registry by uploading the deed and signature page as ONE document


For verifying a person's identity, things have got more straightforward here too.  

Verification can now be done by video call and it doesn't HAVE to be a solicitor any more - the list of people who can verify has now been extended to include: retired solicitors, barristers or legal execs; doctors; dentists; chartered accountants; police officers; magistrates; vets; bank officials; MPs; teachers; senior executive officers (SEOs) (or above) civil servants; and armed forces officer.

While the process for solicitors and non-solicitors varies slightly - further information can be found here - both are simple and streamlined and give a little more time for applicants to submit their forms. 

Hopefully, these two new initiatives will help get the property market moving again by making a notoriously paper-heavy sector, less reliant on trees and ink and embrace technology, music to the ears of people working from dining room tables and using inkjet printers.