France legalises all remote notaire sales signatures
Notaires in France can now organise signatures on property deed documents remotely so as to avoid unnecessary contact during the Covid-19 crisis, allowing house sales and property deals to go ahead.
A decree (n° 2020-395) published in the Journal Officiel of April 4, 2020, states that notaires are now authorised to sign deeds remotely and electronically, “during this period of health emergency”.
The decree is to last until one month after the end date of the current health state of emergency only.
The full text and rules can be seen on the government legal website, Légifrance (https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/). It applies to notaires, solicitors, magistrates, lawyers, administrations and individuals.
It allows a notaire to “receive alone and remotely the consent of the relevant parties” and provide an “authentic electronic” sales act via electronic means and videoconferencing.
In a statement, the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion explained: “This will allow the French public to continue with their property moves. This decree makes it possible to have an electronic signature for the sales of new-build properties, for which the use of a power of attorney is not permitted as the signature must be carried out before a notaire (contrary to the rules for the sales of non new-build properties).
“From now on, for both new-build and non new-build sales, the notaire will be able to receive the consent of the parties involved by remote communication and collect their electronic signatures.”
Housing minister Julien Denormandie said that the decree would “simplify” proceedings and had been “eagerly awaited by all those in the estate agency sector”.
He said: “We have quickly provided a solution so that the sector can continue its activity. This change also makes it possible to reassure people who were already involved in a sale process before the confinement measures were put in place.
“Deeds of sale will continue to be signed, remotely, with all the necessary legal certainty.”
National notaire council Le Conseil Supérieur du Notariat (CSN) said in a statement that the “safety measures” of the act’s “authenticity” would come from the signature of the notaire, whose role in “public office...presumes and requires impartiality, professional secrecy; respect for ethics, and rigour”.
The CSN said it was “happy with the care in which this decree was prepared and examined by the Chancellory and the Conseil d’Etat, despite the numerous ways in which regulatory power is under attack by the unprecedented health situation that is currently happening across France”.
It also called for notaires to make the transition easier by pooling their existing technological resources.
It said: “Currently, more than 40% of national offices have video-conferencing facilities installed. That is why the CSN is calling for the pooling of existing equipment across the country.
“This allows, without physical contact, to allow a notaire with videoconferencing equipment to make their facilities available to a colleague.”
Jean-François Humbert, president of the CSN, said: “The publication of the decree allowing remote appearance while guaranteeing safety measures and the creation of an authentic document is an important step forward, which will make notaires’ working lives easier in the current environment.”
He added: “I would like to stress that, since the introduction of confinement measures, notaires and their staff have been able to continue their public service mission to serve the French public.
They have proven their adaptability and quick reactions in the face of the current unprecedented situation in our country.”
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