Electronically signed mortgage deeds came a step closer yesterday when the government asked parliament to accept the 'low' risk of the scheme. Business secretary Greg Clark MP laid before parliament a departmental minute describing the digital mortgage scheme and the resulting contingent liability for fraud. 

Land Registry plans to allow borrowers to sign mortgage deeds electronically later this year as part of a long-running programme to digitise the conveyancing process. Signatories will identify themselves with the government-backed GOV.UK.Verify scheme, through which seven certified 'identity assurers' confirm identities when required.   

The government's statement to parliament is needed whenever a department proposes to undertake a contingent liability of £300,000 and above without specific statutory authority. Liability for the digital mortgage service sits outside of the scope of HMLR’s existing statutory compensation scheme under the Land Registration Act 2002, Clark said. If no objections are made, the proposal will be authorised after 14 parliamentary sitting days. 

In the statement, Clark says the risk of the new liability occurring 'is considered low'.

'The new process, where the borrower’s identity has to be verified through GOV.UK Verify combined with HMLR’s independent security processes, should in fact reduce the overall risk of fraud,' he added. 'To date GOV.UK Verify has not identified a single example of fraud despite in excess of 1.25 million citizens’ accounts having been created using the GOV.UK Verify service.'