Conveyancing: Land Registry says it needs to improve too

The Land Registry (LR) is to publish how many incomplete applications it receives from the top 500 conveyancing firms as part of its commitment to opening up its data.

The LR said it sends out 5,000 requisitions every day to conveyancers for further information or action before their applications can be completed.

Last month, in its five-year business strategy, the LR said it would look at publishing “our comparative conveyancer data to provide the end consumer with a real picture of how well their conveyancer is performing, and to enable firms to track their relative performance”.

Writing on the LR’s website last week, head of customer policy Andrew Robertson said it was currently planning to publish a downloadable CSV file naming the 500 customers that sent the highest volume of applications and show the percentage of the applications which needed further work before they could be processed.

It would also make public a chart that tracks this data for the top 50 customers by volume of applications.

Mr Robertson explained that the LR has started sending a monthly workbook to the 500 firms to keep them up to date about their applications “and how we could work together to improve these applications to make sure they are processed simply and without delay. The workbook may also help them identify what we can do better for them”.

He acknowledged that it was not just conveyancers who needed to improve their performance.

“While conveyancers are still responsible for completing applications with due care and attention, we can help them improve by giving them better data and advice, and a more consistent service.

“So this is not just about conveyancers improving the quality of their applications; we need to improve too, and by working together to do better across the board we can help make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper for all of us.”

In particular, he said the LR was training its caseworkers to increase their use of standard forms of requisition. At the moment around 25% of requisitions are in a free format.

“This is too high, given that many of the requisitions we raise are on the same overall issues. Fewer free-format applications will give us better data that will help us become more consistent about when we raise requisitions, and customers will receive clearer information about the action they need to take.”

Mr Robertson said the move to publish more data was in line with both the wider government strategy to publishing data and the Competitions and Market Authority’s (CMA) recommendations for greater transparency in the legal market.

“The CMA have concluded that there is not enough information available on price, quality and service to help those who need legal support choose the best option. We have been involved in discussions with the regulators and membership bodies in the legal sector about what part the data we hold can play.”

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