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Land Registry launches Digital Identity Standard for conveyancing process

HM Land Registry has launched its first Digital Identity Standard, which provides a step-by-step list of requirements for conveyancers’ use of digital services to verify their client’s identity securely and conveniently online.

The Land Registry said the new standard was optional but offered a ‘Safe Harbour’ for those conveyancers who met the requirements. HM Land Registry will not seek recourse against conveyancers who comply with the standard in the event their client was not who they claimed to be.

It added: “This makes identity verification much more convenient as it can be done at any time, without the need to meet physically, for all clients whether residential or commercial. It also provides enhanced security by requiring the use of smartphones to extract encrypted information contained within the chips of documents such as passports.”

Mike Harlow, General Counsel, Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Land Registrar, said: “Proving your identity when buying or selling your property can be a pain. But of course, it is essential to the security of such high value transactions. This new standard for digital biometric identity checking marks an exciting milestone towards a truly digital conveyancing process.

“In a challenging year, we set up a cross-industry forum to support our conveyancing colleagues. First, we brought in electronic signatures to remove any need for paper in conveyancing. Now through this same collaboration we are able to bring a new digital identity standard to reduce the risk of fraud and make transactions a more digital, easier and faster experience.”

The Land Registry claimed the release of the standard marked another key step toward the future of conveyancing. “It provides a clear blueprint for technology providers to develop a range of secure and convenient options to support conveyancers better.”

It added that it would continue to develop and tailor the standard by widening the scope to incorporate different legal entities and to explore the availability of more enhanced digital means of obtaining evidence to link the party to the transaction with the particular property.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently developing an overarching ‘trust framework’ for digital identity use across the economy. The Land Registry said it would continue to work closely with DCMS over the coming months to ensure alignment.

The standard is available on the Land Registry’s new Practice guide 81: encouraging the use of digital technology in identity verification.

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