HMLR consultation on encouraging digital identity checking in conveyancing

The proposals

HM Land Registry (HMLR) is seeking to deliver more of its services digitally, with the aim of updating the official register in real time as changes take place.

HMLR has developed a draft set of requirements aimed at encouraging digital identity checks in conveyancing transactions.

The proposals would encourage:

  • ‘conveyancers’ to engage with HMLR at an early stage to understand more clearly what information they need to provide to meet the title registration requirements
  • HMLR to obtain certification from individual conveyancers that processes such as identity checking have been carried out properly prior to completion. HMLR would be entitled to rely on the conveyancer’s assurance
  • the adoption of more resilient ID checks through the creation of a ‘safe harbour’ – the identity of buyers and sellers would be verified to a published standard that, if clearly met, would mean HMLR would not seek recourse against the conveyancer in the event their client was not who they claimed to be

Our view

We’re broadly in favour of the proposals introduced by the safe harbour standard.

It’s right that HMLR is taking steps so that third-party providers can:

  • offer services that are needed
  • comply with HMLR requirements sufficient to achieve the safe harbour
  • produce an ID standard of the best quality so that others in the process can all rely on the same information

If HMLR’s view is for the profession to move to a ‘tell rather than show’ model then we agree that a regulated individual should take responsibility for that, as the opportunity for fraud is arguably increased.

This means that, before completion, the conveyancer provides an individual certificate as assurance that they have followed HMLR’s processes, rather than providing a signature in the name of a firm.

What this means for solicitors

Our understanding is that the new process would encourage active engagement and the checking of registration matters much earlier in the process.

We would welcome further in-depth discussions with HMLR on the practicalities around implementing the individual certificate regime as it relates to the safe harbour standard.

Next steps

This consultation closed on 11 December 2020.

In March 2021, HMLR launched its standard for digital identity checks.

We’ll continue to work closely with HMLR and keep members informed as updates become available.

Read the consultation on the GOV.UK website

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS