Conveyancing Association conference sets out process improvements

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, used its recent Annual Conference “The Conveyancing Revolution – Survival & Success in the Pandemic World” to outline a number of process improvements, either already available or imminent, to help speed up the sale and purchase of property.

Taking place on 2nd December, the conference covered a number of sessions which looked at process improvements the CA anticipates will make a significant difference for property market stakeholders, and also invited HM Land Registry, the Government, and the Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG) to outline key projects.

Mike Harlow, Deputy Chief Executive & Deputy Chief Land Registrar, outlined the launch of the Digital Registration Service and how applications can now be placed through this, while also detailing the introduction of both witnessed electronic signatures and Qualified Electronic Signatures, which will help cut down on the time required to secure a signature on documentation.

Matt Prior from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities revealed its current thinking around improving digitisation and digitalisation of the process, plus ongoing work exploring the use of reservation agreements, and support for the BASPI (Buying & Selling Property Information form) and Property Logbook.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the CA and the CA representative at the HSBG, looked at the work of these two organisations and key workstreams, plus how it will continue to encourage sellers to instruct a conveyancer on day one of marketing, the progress towards “one source of truth” digital ID in order to stop duplication across the process, its continued focus on upfront information via the BASPI, which is intended to collect all the information required by the buyer, mortgage broker, lender, valuer/surveyor and the conveyancer, and progress towards an industry pledge to secure moving out by 1pm on the day of completion.

Sally Holdway from Teale Legal outlined the work undertaken by the HBSG to ensure the provenance of the data collected by the BASPI is authenticated by a Property Data Trust Framework so stakeholders understand what they can rely on and the further due diligence which is required.

Other sessions included Professor Stephen Mayson who looked at next-generation regulation, or deregulation, of the legal profession, including whether the current regulatory system for conveyancing was fit for purpose, and how conveyancing firms might have to prepare for further change in order to maintain their prominent position within it.

Finally, the Conference offered a panel debate covering how member firms had supported their staff during the pandemic and lockdown periods, how they could ensure all staff were monitored to ensure their mental health was prioritised, and the range of support that was available to conveyancing firms including via Law Care and the “Be Kind We Care” initiative.

Nicky Heathcote, Non-Executive Chair of The Conveyancing Association, said:

Part of our focus with this year’s Conference was to look at the initiatives, workstreams and progress that is being made right now in order to produce a much more efficient, and less stressful, home buying and selling process.

To that end, we were delighted to welcome the Government, HM Land Registry, the Home Buying and Selling Group and many other stakeholders, to set out the measures which are already making a real difference, and will do so in the months and years ahead. Digital ID, electronic signatures, upfront information via the BASPI are here and being used already, and they will grow in importance as more firms and stakeholders take them up.

It was also important to offer a view on the regulatory situation and how that ties in with the future for conveyancing firms, plus an incredibly useful session on how firms have coped during the pandemic and what they can do to ensure the ongoing mental well-being of their staff, through what has been a very challenging period.

Attendance at the Conference was excellent and we would like to thank every single person, firm, and organisation that came to the ICC to support the CA, and all those who took part in the sessions. I hope you gained as much out of it as we did at the Association. There is much to be positive about and we will continue to focus on those projects and workstreams which are going to deliver the most benefits to our member firms and their customers.”

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