22 March 2022LawtechUK

Digital ID Verification in the Legal Sector – Joint Statement

LawtechUK and the Regulatory Response Unit (RRU) have issued this joint statement to help address misconceptions around digital identity (or ‘ID’) verification technology, highlight the benefits of adoption in this area, and share useful resources to help legal practitioners in their adoption of such tools.


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The Context and Purpose of the Discussion Paper

Despite the benefits of digital identity verification for clients and consumers, LawtechUK and the RRU have identified reluctance within the legal community to use and adopt this technology. This hesitance often stems from misconceptions around regulation and a lack of awareness of the technical capabilities available to support clients and legal businesses themselves.

The joint statement confirms that legal services regulation does not prohibit the use of digital ID verification tools in any of the jurisdictions of the UK and in fact the Government is working to encourage and unify ID verification across sectors, for the benefit of the public and professionals.

When used correctly, digital ID verification can provide a fast, cost-effective, and reliable way to verify an individual’s identity and reduce money laundering and compliance risks. It can make it easier to spot fake documents for example, make the client onboarding process faster and smoother, and support the legal community to keep pace with changes in international economic sanctions.

Jenifer Swallow, Director of LawtechUK said “The joint statement sets out to erase the lingering myth that legal services regulation prevents the use or reliance on digital means of identity verification in law. Responsible selection, adoption and implementation of these tools can help improve compliance practices and client service across the legal sector.

Digital identity technology has become a valuable tool in combating money laundering risk across industries worldwide. It is critical that the legal community keeps up with advancements in technology and focuses on how they can be best used for the benefit of their clients and wider society - it is great to see the regulators working together to support this.”

Benefits of Digital ID Verification Technology in Legal Services

  • Confidence - Digital ID verification can involve a number of technologies, including biometric verification, facial recognition, ‘liveness’ checks, machine readable zones (MRZ) and others. These can increase the accuracy of checks, while reducing room for human error, enabling legal practitioners to be confident about their client’s identity.
  • Speed - These tools can save time on manual processing of documentation and in-person checking through remote onboarding and accelerated verification processes.
  • Scalability - Once digital ID processes are set up, they can scale easily for use with all clients.
  • Record Keeping - Providers may include features such as automated recordkeeping that ensure data is captured in a way that is standardised and secure. This can be useful for evaluation and auditing purposes.
  • Compliance - Processes and controls correctly implemented with digital ID tools map to legal requirements, reducing the complexity for practitioners to both comply and evidence compliance to regulations.
  • User experience - Digital ID tools make the identity verification process less burdensome for the client, from simple instructions on how to upload documents, handling requests for additional information, and communication on status and outcome, which otherwise involve lots of back and forth
    correspondence e.g. by email.
  • Security - Documents can be encrypted and stored digitally. This reduces the risk associated with physical storage and management of documents.

Download the full statement above to learn more about the misconceptions around digital identity verification and the benefits of adoption by legal businesses.

This statement does not constitute legal or regulatory advice, and should not replace specific analysis and consultation regarding individual circumstances.

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