Digital protocol prepares conveyancers for “huge step forward”

Rudolf: Protocol written with one eye on the future

The Conveyancing Association (CA) has launched a future digital conveyancing protocol to help firms prepare for the “huge step forward” that greater use of upfront information and technology will achieve.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the CA, said it would give firms “a full steer on what is possible” and help them integrate the latest technology into their processes.

Ms Rudolf said many CA member firms were already using digital processes, “and it’s clear they – and their clients – are benefiting from them”, so the CA “wanted to produce guidance and recommendations for how all conveyancers can make the most of this, and what standards they should be meeting”.

She said the protocol was written “with one eye on the future”, and fitted in with the CA’s commitment to the greater use of upfront information, combined with technology such as digital ID and signatures, chain-view technology and property logbooks, “which we believe will provide a huge step forward and drastically reduce the time it takes to complete and the wastage within our industry”.

The CA said the protocol had been published “in advance of a number of forthcoming initiatives”, such as new legislation, working its way through Parliament, on digital ID verification and HM Land Registry’s pilot on the use of digital signatures.

The protocol also “pre-empts” the launch of new guidance on the use of material information from the National Trading Standards estate and letting agent team, including the launch of parts B and C.

We reported last week that James Munro, the team’s senior manager, said part B, covering information which must be established for all properties such as restrictive covenants, and part C, covering additional material information specific to each property, such as flood risk reports, could come into force next month.

In an introductory section to the protocol, the CA said it “seeks to ensure the sellers of the property receive advice (including advice on proactive corrective action) as soon as they begin to market their property, or before”, to enable them to realise the full value.

This would “improve conversion rates, reduce transactions which fail and should reduce the time from point of sale”, allowing a greater turnover of transactions and improving firms’ profitability.

The CA said it was “in the best interests” of the seller to collate all information “any buyer’s conveyancing lawyer would review as part of their due diligence process”, to prevent additional enquiries.

Among this would be a completed version of the Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) dataset, evidence of title, lease information, and local authority and other searches, along with confirmation that the seller has been digitally identified.

Conveyancers acting for the seller are recommended to ask clients if they have “access to a smartphone to be able to sign digitally and be identified digitally”.

The conveyancer is free “and encouraged, to take instructions to proactively remedy any issues at an early stage and obtain missing information or explain any conflicting information”.

The conveyancer is also recommended to provide “a summary to the agent marketing the property, indicating any material information which might impact the average buyer’s transactional decision, and which must be linked to the advertisement of the property”.

Conveyancers should use “digital signature and qualified electronic signature technology, when available” to get the contract signed, and use email or a secure portal, rather than the telephone, for exchange. The same techniques should be used by conveyancers acting for buyers.

    Readers Comments

  • Angie says:

    So who is going to encourage the seller to instruct a conveyancer prior to marketing the property to prepare the MI and to pay the cost of preparing the MI? Or is the conveyancer expected to do this for free? Or is this another occasion where it just gives the EA the ability to only refer the sellers to those firms which pay the best referral fees….

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