If you’re a conveyancer in England or Wales, you will be very familiar with the phrase “Safe Harbour“. In practical terms, it means that if you carry out your digital identity checks on a client in a certain way, you are protected or have discharged your duty under Safe Harbour, and HM Land Registry will not pursue any recourse claim against you resulting from the registration of a fraudulent transaction on the grounds the identity checks were inadequate.
What is Safe Harbour?
Safe harbour refers to a set of guidelines and standards set by the HM Land Registry, based on the principles of the UK Government Good Practice Guide, known as GPG 45. It represents the highest level of protection available to conveyancers, as hinted by its name. When a conveyancer adheres to the standard, and fulfils its rigorous criteria, they attain ‘Safe Harbour’.
The criteria are reasonably simple and using a UK Government accredited IDSP should allow you to meet them, while also making the process of completing the information and checks easy for your client. The requirements involve biometric and cryptographic checking of identity and verification that the individual signing on behalf of corporations is the owner of the property, or otherwise a genuine party to a registrable transaction. The standard, when followed, constitutes what is regarded by HM Land Registry as a discharge of the duty to verify the identity of a party to a registrable transaction. You can find out more information in a very helpful HM Land Registry Practice Guide 81.
What should conveyancers do?
Familiarise yourself with Safe Harbour: Understand the guidelines and standards set by the HM Land Registry
Utilise approved methods: Utilise thorough identity verification methods and utilise tools that are government-approved, meet the specific criteria and help ensure compliance
Maintain good records: Maintain comprehensive records of the identity verification processes undertaken for each transaction: certain identity-checking providers offer
Train your team: Provide your team with regular training to ensure everyone involved understand the standards and protocols to achieve Safe Harbour
Regularly review: Continuously assess and improve your processes to stay aligned with the evolving standards and best practices
How can Amiqus help you follow the Safe Harbour standards?
Amiqus is a UK Government accredited Identity Service Provider (IDSP). We are verified to the ‘High Confidence’ level under the UK Digital Trust and Attributes framework.
This means that on top of allowing you to meet the Safe Harbour standard for conveyancing matters, we provide a certified digital onboarding tool for all work types, allowing you to satisfy your KYC/AML compliance requirements, as well as all other aspects of client onboarding. Our platform includes functionality such as address verification, Source of Funds, PEPs, Sanctions and Adverse media checks, with options for ongoing monitoring to flag any changes during the course of your work with your client.
Our IDSP accreditation also allows you to conduct staff vetting checks, as required on a proportionate basis under the Legal Sector Affinity Group guidance. While you will be familiar with checking your Beneficial Owners, Officers and Managers, the guidance now proposes certain checks be carried out on other relevant staff members, both at the point of first employment and afterwards on an annual basis. This may include Right to Work checks, DBS checks, credit checks, employment history, reference gathering, and more. All of these checks can be carried out fully digitally, making Amiqus the only platform allowing you to meet all of your AML regulatory requirements in one place.
Finally, we provide a range of complimentary features designed to assist you in maintaining Safe Harbour standards. Within our platform, you can effectively uphold compliance through our audit trail functionality, enabling you meticulous record-keeping. Furthermore, we assist with team training and remain vigilant in monitoring and adapting to evolving regulatory changes.
To find out more about how to stay on top of compliance by using the Amiqus platform, visit amiqus.co/anti-money-laundering or book a demo.