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No online indemnity for lawyers

Parliamentary reporter
Solicitors have been told that it is their responsibility to ensure that a new system of electronic conveyancing is secure and fraud-free.

The introduction of electronic conveyancing is part of a wider drive to streamline land and property information in the UK and enable paperless property transactions.

Justice minister Michael Wills said the electronic process would be more secure than traditional handwritten signatures on paper legal documents, but added, "Part of the price of preserving the integrity of any computer system is continual vigilance."

He refused to indemnify lawyers against counterfeit e-signatures.

Speaking in a Commons debate, Wills said, "Electronic identities will have to be carefully guarded and internal management systems made as robust as possible and be enforced as rigorously as possible."

Wills fought off a move from solicitor and Tory legal spokesman Bill Cash to put a new clause into the legislation which would have indemnified solicitors against lost transactions caused by fraudulent e-signatures.

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