HM Land Registry should give conveyancers a list of accredited suppliers that can help them meet new digital identity requirements rather than leave them to to figure out a market they know little about, the Law Society has said.
Responding to a consultation on Land Registry proposals to introduce a Safe Harbour Standard, the Society said solicitors 'do not have the requisite product knowledge to be able to determine whether a product brought to market is compliant to HMLR's requirements'.
To reach ‘safe harbour’, the client must hold a form of evidence that can be checked by interrogating cryptographic security features within the evidence. Conveyancers must check that the evidence is genuine. The conveyancer must make sure the biometric information captured from a ‘liveness check’ matches biometric information in the chip within the evidence.
Conveyancers representing a transferor, borrower or lessor must connect the client to the property by obtaining two examples from a set list of evidence, and check that the name and address matches the identity.
The Society is concerned that Land Registry does not intend to maintain a list of approved identity providers or offer accreditation.
‘We have some concerns about this approach of laying down standards and leaving conveyancers to find suppliers. For example, their requirements relating to witnesses receiving a code by text before signing has caused a problem with electronic signatures where some significant players in the market do not have this facility,' the Society said.
‘It would be desirable for potential suppliers to submit their systems to HMLR or some other independent body to be certified as compliant with HMLR’s requirements. It is our view that conveyancers do not have the requisite product knowledge to be able to determine whether a product brought to market is compliant to HMLR’s requirements. We would encourage HMLR to ensure that there are specific suppliers that meet their requirements before insisting on their use.’
The standard would not be compulsory and other means of identifying parties to a transaction can be used. However, Land Registry says it will not seek recourse for negligence if a conveyancer carries out all the requirements under the standard.
The Society said it supported the new standard on the basis that conveyancing solicitors are not burdened with additional and unreasonable obligations.