Digital signatures are an inherent and simple part of e-Conveyancing – and it’s essential you use them securely.
It is important to not cut corners by sharing your Digital Certificate within your organisation. Understanding how Digital Certificates should be used will help you keep this time-saving technology safe.
Digital Certificates should not be shared – even within your firm
A PEXA Digital Certificate is issued to an individual within a Subscriber’s business. Whenever it’s used, both the individual and the Subscriber are clearly identified.
As you probably know, digital signing is not just convenient, but also secure. Once you insert the encrypted USB token which stores the certificate into your computer, you simply click 'sign', enter your unique PIN, and your digital signature is added to the document.
Whenever your digital signature is applied in a PEXA Workspace, it is taken to be signed by you and is binding; similar to a wet signature. That’s why it’s important to treat your Digital Certificate as you would treat a blank cheque book, or your credit card and PIN. Keep the following in mind:
- If you share your Digital Certificate within your firm and it’s misused in a PEXA transaction, you will be identifiable as the person who signed; and
- If a digitally signed document in a PEXA transaction is called into question, this could impact your reputation, affect your professional indemnity insurance, and may mean you’ve breached your obligations under the Participation Agreement and/or your professional obligations.
Correct use is simple
Sharing your PEXA Digital Certificate is probably something that hasn’t even crossed your mind. There are two ways you can successfully sign under any circumstances:
- Firstly, if you have a laptop, an internet connection and your Digital Certificate, you’ll be able to sign in PEXA anywhere on the go. PEXA subscribers have even signed from Fiji and in the air.
- Secondly, you can order Digital Certificates for appropriate staff. Your business should consider its ability to sign in PEXA when staff are unavailable or even during high-volume periods. This may mean, where possible, having other lawyers, conveyancers or staff members trained and authorised to sign in PEXA.
You can order Digital Certificates for other people within your business (and remove the temptation around sharing Digital Certificates) online at PEXA. Remember, though, that as a Subscriber, you’re responsible for compliance with your jurisdiction’s legal requirements and restrictions on who can sign documents in PEXA. You can check with your land registry for further information about this.
Why you'll need a new Digital Certificate when you move employers
If you’re moving on to a new job – congratulations! But don’t take your Digital Certificate with you. As it identifies both you and the firm, you’ll need to request a new Digital Certificate once you start with your new employer. And, of course, make sure your existing certificate associated with your former employer is cancelled when you move on by calling the PEXA Support Centre.
It’s wise to be prepared and have proper provisions in place to handle any difficulties or pressures you may encounter around signing.