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Apr 19, 2017: First-ever electronic exchange of contracts

he first ever electronic e-signature exchange of contracts for a residential property transaction in the UK has been completed this month, it has been revealed. The exchange happened on Thursday April 6 at 15.59pm with the conveyancers and their clients at the offices of Convey Law using the Bonafidee e-signature facility to sign the contract for both the sale and purchase element of the transaction. The system allows both lawyers to upload the agreed contract, which is then sent to the seller and the purchaser clients for them to sign electronically. The system provides confirmation that the document has been read and signed with a code taking the place of a signature. Armed with both parts of the contract, and having acted on both sides of the transaction, Convey Law’s conveyancers exchanged contracts under normal Law Society rules. “Agreeing contract terms is often undertaken over the telephone by conveyancers and, in many circumstances, the document that you receive from the conveyancer on the other side of a transaction can look very different from the contract that you have sent out” says Convey Law legal director Gareth Richards. But he says the system used in this first transaction allows for an agreed form of contract to be uploaded and then sent to the clients for them to sign. “The e-signature requires confirmation that the client is who they say they are and hence proof of identity verification is always important as a prefix to this procedure. This is definitely a significant step in the right direction in relation to e-conveyancing and we are delighted to have been a part” he says. Lloyd Davies, operations director for the Conveyancing Association and a managing director at Convey Law, says effective proof of identity and electronic signatures are a key component part of bringing conveyancing into the 21st century. “Using electronic signatures to exchange contracts was not difficult, as witnesses are not required for this part of the conveyancing process. It is not difficult to see how electronic e-signatures can replace the need for deeds, which currently need to be witnessed by another individual once the appropriate proof of identity and verification checks and balances are in place” he adds. via

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