Disruptive Technology of the Year: Docusign wins at Legal Week Innovation Awards

Docusign named "Disruptive Technology of the Year"

We are  honoured to announce that we have been named Disruptive Technology of the Year at this year’s Legal Week Innovation Awards for our work in helping to further digitise the land registry signature and witnessing process. 

Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR) is responsible for registering the ownership and transfer of title for land and property in England and Wales, processing approximately 2.5 million deeds per year.

In July last year, amidst national lockdowns and underscored by its desire to move away from traditional paper processing, HM Land Registry removed the requirement for property transaction documents to only be printed and signed with a ‘wet signature’ and began accepting ‘witnessed electronic signatures’.

HMLR has set several key requirements for witnessed electronic signing, including:

(See full practice guidance from HMLR)

Digitising the land registry signature and witnessing process

Docusign was recognised by the Legal Week Innovation Awards because of its role in helping to digitise the land registry signature and witnessing process. While Docusign eSignature supported standard electronic witnessing, its eWitness add-on feature did not contain certain enhanced functionality required by HMLR, specifically One Time Password (OTP) for the witness signers. 

However, through close collaboration with HMLR and leading law firms, Docusign’s cross-functional team developed new improvements to eWitness   enabling witness signers to be authenticated by email and a second factor of  one time password, sent by SMS to the witness’ phone. Along with dual factor authentication required by HMLR, eWitness supports document confidentiality as with a new configuration where witness recipients can only see document(s) they have fields on by default, just like a regular signer.  The enhancement provides an even more secure and reliable workflow resulting in optimisation of the signature witnessing process.

Through digital transformation, the land registry signing process has become quicker, easier and more secure. Where the signing process used to take weeks, it can now be completed in a few hours or even minutes, eliminating unnecessary printing of paper-heavy deeds and agreements. 

Every agreement can be traced throughout the signing process and, upon completion, evidence of the signing process is captured in the Certificate of Completion that provides a secure proof and audit trail of each sender, signer and witness—giving visibility and security that wouldn’t be possible with paper-based processes. 

Learning and educating lead to more innovative technology 

To understand their feature requirements, regulation roll-out timing, and interest in next generation technology, Docusign worked closely with the HMLR to educate them on the technology options that could apply to their new rules, answer their technical questions, and revise Docusign’s product offering to align with their regulatory requirements and timing of the roll-out.

Additionally, Docusign created a Product Advisory Council for UK Professional Service Lawyers to engage the user community in testing and providing feedback on the new features as the technology was being developed. This industry-public sector collaboration established Docusign as a collaborative subject matter expert with the HMLR and the legal community responsible for applying the new rules.

Once the eWitness feature improvements were completed , Docusign initiated a programme for early access users to test the feature and provide feedback This collaboration supported Docusign’s goal to align with the vision of the HMLR and support the long felt needs of the legal profession, a significant group of constituents for the HMLR. 

Docusign awarded ‘Disruptive Technology of the Year’

We were honored to be named Disruptive Technology of the Year and are extremely proud of the collaborative work done by our cross-functional team in helping to digitise the land registry signature and witnessing process.

We’d like to congratulate the Docusign team for spearheading this project: Doug Luftman, Deputy General Counsel; Mangesh Bhandarkar, Senior Director of Product Management; Ekene Anene, Product Manager; Puja Sharma, Program Manager; Maeve Sugrue, Marketing Manager, Liliya Apostolova, Product Marketing Director and Stephanie Liais, Senior Product Marketing Manager. 

We’d also like to thank the HM Land Registry and Product Advisory Council members including; Womble Bond Dickinson, Penningtons Manches Cooper LLPEversheds Sutherland and Hill Dickinson LLP for their feedback, support, and leading the charge in digital transformation for the legal and conveyancing industry.

Daisy O'Malley Glynn
Marketing Communications Specialist