Digital Signatures and the Electronic Transfer of Land

Séamus Keating


This article assessed the challenges posed by the use of digital signatures as part of the introduction of an electronic transfer of land ownership system. The role and function of manuscript signatures is analysed in order to explain the role that digital signatures will play in a system which allows for the electronic transfer of land ownership. The technological and legal initiatives relating to digital signatures are analysed. In particular, the development of a legal framework for digital signatures is evaluated. This article focuses on whether the form of digital signature that is provided by the Electronic Signatures Directive and the UNICTRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures is appropriate in the context of the electronic transfer of land ownership. Electronic conveyancing will transform the current paper-based conveyancing system. Digital signatures will play a vital role in this process. The affect that the introduction of digital signatures will have on the conveyancing process has not been addressed. This research evaluates how liability for fraudulent transactions will be distributed in an electronic conveyancing process which relies on digital signatures.

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