February 1, 2022

“Electronic Execution of Documents, Industry Working Group Interim Report”

“Electronic Execution of Documents, Industry Working Group Interim Report” is published today by the government. The property industry must embrace the recommendations.


The Law Commission report, Electronic Execution of Documents (2019), recommended the formation of the Industry Working Group on Electronic Execution of Documents.  The Group was appointed by the Ministry of Justice and commenced meeting in the summer of 2021. 


Tasked with considering the practical issues relating to the electronic execution of documents, the Group has considered best practice guidance, analysed different technologies’ security and reliability, and considered solutions and safeguards for video-witnessing of deeds, amongst the various Terms of Reference. 


The report “Electronic Execution of Documents, Industry Working Group Interim Report” is published today and I urge you to review.  See here. 


It has been a privilege to have been appointed to the Group and work with Lord Justice Birss, Mr Justice Fraser, Professor Sarah Green and my colleagues on the Group. 


Electronic execution of documentation has been an area where my team and I have specialised since we created the online execution platform clicktopurchase® first launched as far back as 2009.  Having recognised early the impact technology would have on the property industry, we were the first to create a solution for legally transacting property sales online. Our platform has been adopted now in England & Wales, Ireland and South Africa, used by the Singer Vielle network in delivering a technical solution to solve frustrations, delays and uncertainties around the property sale process. 


As well as being the first to execute property transactions legally online, clicktopurchase® has since embraced blockchain becoming the world first to use this technology as part of the purchase process.  Buyers and sellers of properties offered by the Singer Vielle network have witnessed first-hand the advantages of speed, certainty, accountability and transparency an online execution process, using digital signatures, can deliver to all involved. 


The launch today of the Industry Working Group Interim Report is important to all business processes, including of course the property sector.  Whilst the property industry has been reluctant to embrace technology generally, I have seen during the pandemic how attitudes have changed dramatically and, finally, a realisation amongst property professionals that their businesses will fail to compete unless they devise or adopt technical solutions.   


Business inefficiencies and slowness of processes generate issues around competitiveness and profitability.  Instilling confidence and guidance around the use of electronic signatures is significant in attacking these problem areas, driving the property industry to a more modern, transparent and speedier transaction process which is good for all involved in the process, be they buyers, sellers, agents or solicitors. 


Whilst working within the Group I have naturally taken a particular interest in how the conclusions and recommendations impact upon the property profession. Having developed a proprietary software platform specifically for our sector, and encountered much resistance in the early years, it is hugely encouraging to be part of such the Group seeking to instil confidence in the legalities and benefits I have witnessed directly by a technical approach to business.  Developing and proving the clicktopurchase® platform has been my proudest achievement in my career; being appointed to the Industry Working Group by the Ministry of Justice is a close second and I like to think a vindication of the direction of travel my team commenced in 2009. 


I urge everyone in the property profession to review today’s report; it of great significance to our industry.  Note in the report’s conclusion: “The group’s clear view is that electronic signatures can and should be used today on a wide scale, and that members of society should have confidence in doing so.” 


Please see here the official press release from the Ministry of Justice: See here 


I welcome your comments and please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss. 


Neil Singer 


1st February 2022