The Lord Chancellor's Department has published a consultation paper on electronic conveyancing. The paper sets out the government's proposal for an order under section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000. The proposal would allow contracts for the disposition of land, disposition of registered land and disposition of unregistered land which trigger first registration to be made in electronic form. Transfers, charges and leases over 21 years would all be covered. The proposal also covers variations of these dispositions, but an assignment of an equitable interest in registered land would not come within the definition of disposition. Any electronic disposition would have to be in prescribed form. Stamp duty legislation would also be amended to allow for the "stamping" of electronic documents. One of the implications of electronic conveyancing mentioned in the paper (but not proposed by the draft order), is that, once leases can be granted and assigned electronically, there would be a strong case for reducing the length of leases that have to be substantively registered from 21 years to three years.
Source: The consultation paper is available at www.open.gov.uk/lcd/consult/general/e-conv.htm Responses are requested by 25th June, 2001. PLC Property Law