This week the HMLR have announced that the time is now with the confirmation that electronic signatures will be accepted, as long as there is a witness present at the time to also sign – conveyancing has finally arrived in the 21st Century.
Digitalising transactions and matter files has been on the agenda of many law firms, most know that they need to do it, but it has kept ending up at the bottom of the to do list hasn’t it? Sounding familiar?
Well the time has arrived – right here right now. The threat of another coronavirus outbreak will not only be devastating, it will further solidify the fact that we need to get better at working remotely.
A paper heavy conveyancing process simply will not work anymore, clients will not tolerate it.
So many professional services are now digitised, from opening an online bank account to buying a car all from the convenient position of being sat on a sofa.
Couple this with social distancing, which is here for a while yet, paperless client onboarding and communications is needed urgently across the industry.
In Land Registry’s latest annual report, chair Michael Mire predicts a greater desire to make property transactions more digital over the coming year, saying conveyancing still has too many paper-based processes compared with other sectors of the economy.
‘This has been tolerated by consumers up until now but the potential threat of a future outbreak will change those expectations,’ he said.
In a step towards a ‘frictionless’ digital conveyancing process, there would be a requirement for structured data. This summer will therefore see the registry introduce a digital registration service, which will validate data before it is submitted, reducing the need for paper.
In line with these efforts, the 'view my applications' service, which allows applicants to view their previous requests and manage applications, alongside an estimated date and any related correspondence, will become more widely available.
The Land Registry plans to digitise submitting and processing the most common transaction types, with the initial focus being on applications to remove a mortgage, transfer ownership and add a new charge.
During 2019/20, HM Land Registry responded to more than 35 million requests for service, including 5.9 million changes to the register, 20.7 million guaranteed queries and 7.8 million information service requests.