At the beginning of May, with Covid restrictions in full swing, Land Registry made changes to the ‘Mercury’ signing rules for documents and deeds.
The ‘Mercury’ approach facilitates virtual signings where one or more signatories are not physically present at the same meeting.
Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, welcomed the change saying:
“These changes help to improve processes for transactions in a difficult environment – they are both pragmatic and proportionate.”
Now, it seems, there seemed to be some confusion as to whether a digital signature deemed a mortgage deed validly executed.
Mortgage Finance Gazette is carrying an interview on the subject with Jonathan Newman, senior partner at Brightstone Law, who says:
“It is important to clear up the first point as to whether we are referring to a document or deed and the specific characteristics of the deed, for example, a deed which deals with the disposal of an interest in land – i.e. a mortgage deed.”
“The key point in the Land Registry’s announcement which seems to have been missed is that mortgage deeds “must still be signed in pen and witnessed in person” to be valid and enforceable.”
This appears to have implications for sales/legal progression.
After this story was published HMLR contacted EYE with the following clarification:
There appears to be some confusion regarding Mercury signing. We will accept any dispositionary deed that has been Mercury signed in accordance with our requirements set out in Practice Guide 8, and the grant of a charge (i.e. a mortgage) is a disposition.
Our guidance can viewed here