As a firm, we are working very hard to make the conveyancing process as quick and as hassle free for our clients as possible. There are many ways in which technology can be and is being used to improve efficiency and convenience for both conveyancers and clients, and we are not only making sure we keep up with the times for the sake of our own processes and service but we are also considering the benefits to our business associates and our mutual clients.
Our Digital Welcome Packs
We have developed our own proprietary digital welcome packs for residential conveyancing clients. This document incorporates all of the usual documents that a client will need to sign in order to commence the conveyancing process whether buying or selling. The pack is filled out online, identification uploaded, terms and conditions agreed, searches paid for and is signed electronically. As soon as the pack is received it is integrated into our back office systems in order to set up our file, generate our task list and standard correspondence and request relevant searches.
Our digital pack was produced following discussions with our new build developer and housing association introducers who wanted us to be able to assist with fast exchange deadlines. We believe the pack reduces delay by at least 5 to 10 days at the start of a conveyancing transaction compared to our previous paper-based conveyancing welcome pack.
In addition, clients appear to like the new packs as they are fast, convenient and secure. For those who do not have email or easy access to a computer connected to the internet, we continue to offer the option of paper-based correspondence.
Some Initial Statistics for our Electronic Conveyancing Welcome Packs
(From the first 100 paid welcome packs distributed to Shared Ownership purchasers.)
- Our pack back returns from our purchase and sale clients have increased by 50%.
- More than half of all clients return signed instructions with payment outside of our regular office hours (9:00-17:30 Monday to Friday).
- Our 20-page purchase pack has been returned with initial payment for searches made in as little as 15 minutes from the time a client first viewed the document, with many being returned in less than half an hour, and the majority within 24 hours.
Contracts exchanged electronically
In developments elsewhere, a law firm has undertaken an exchange of contracts digitally. This required both solicitors to upload an agreed form of contract to a digital signature platform and for both buyer and seller to sign electronically.
This process is not yet available for the completion process as property deeds require an independent witness to verify and sign.
Land Registry consultation and blockchain
In February of this year, Land Registry launched a consultation containing its plans to allow conveyancing to be done entirely electronically through amendment of the Land Registration Rules 2003.
The consultation is aligned with the government’s digital strategy. The biggest change would be to allow fully digital conveyancing documents with e-signatures for land transactions and land registration and to revoke existing rules allowing for limited digital mortgages.
The consultation follows pilots run in both Sweden and Georgia where blockchain backed ‘smart contracts’ have been used to validate the registration of land titles and mortgages. If followed in this country a blockchain digital ledger could cover a range of property based registries such as mortgage deeds and environmental data and enable smart contracts to be used in conveyancing transactions.
Theoretically, a binding smart contract for the sale of a property could automatically transfer a property with or without mortgage upon receipt of funds that would automatically be recorded on the Land Registry digital ledger.
The Conveyancing Association has recently published proposals to improve the conveyancing process. One of its recommendations was that all householders should be required to collect information in e-reports prior to a property being put up for sale. This should include relevant documents such as gas safety certificates, leases and surveys, invoices and maintenance contracts.
Super fast conveyancing is gradually becoming a reality.
We support the collation of upfront information in the form of e-reports to assist property buyers and the move towards digital conveyancing. This should make future transactions faster, more transparent and cheaper.
However, as with all innovations in digital technology, our concerns relate to the risk of fraud and the potential for breaches of client privacy and security. In addition, it would be difficult to educate the entire legal profession on the use of digital technology in order for all users in a conveyancing chain to participate. Some lawyers still do not accept digital signatures and some even refuse to communicate by e-mail!
These issues will require tried and tested solutions as well as a willingness from all conveyancers to embrace the new technology before digital conveyancing will become a reality.
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me (Bill Dhariwal) or our Marketing & Business Development Manager (Paul Renshaw) who is responsible for implementing our digital welcome packs, to discuss this topic further.
If you are looking for more information about our conveyancing services and would like to get an instant online quote, please visit our conveyancing page.