Conveyancing Association hears CML support panel information sharing

The Conveyancing Association last week listened to Paul Smee the Director General of the Council of Mortgage Lenders saying that Lenders should share information they collect from conveyancers in order to reduce the administrative burden on members of their panels.

Many conveyancers are already finding the burden of lengthy repetitive forms a difficult and cumbersome cost. This burden may yet increase as many lenders are not yet adopting the comprehensive data collection processes that some larger lenders are presently seeking.

One larger conveyancer that we spoke to last week has over 70 partners and had found the need to provide certified copy passports certified by a third party firm twice in a 4 month period. By sharing data lenders may reduce the need for repetitive collection of data which will help firms reduce the administrative burden.

Mr Smee was addressing an all-members meeting of the Conveyancing Association (CA) in London, and said that although the subject of panels was a matter for his members, and the CML was not promoting any particular model, he wanted a system that minimised the burden of administration for conveyancers as well as minimising risk.

He added that the CML supported the collection and sharing of conveyancers’ information to avoid duplication of data submissions.

“Panel managers should be able to pool the information they gather from solicitors and licensed conveyancers to create a more efficient system. We are currently facilitating — rather than managing — the development of such a system but it is too early to say when it will be operational.”

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the Conveyancing Association, said:

“I welcome Paul Smee’s commitment to engaging with our industry to find ways to improve working practices between our two sectors. The conveyancing industry is facing unprecedented change and serious practitioners need to avoid falling victim to ill-thought-out measures, so cooperation between leaders of the two sectors is essential.”

At Today’s Conveyancer we can see the benefit of a centralised data collection model in reducing costs but would hope that conveyancers are able to have access the data held on them and have rights of appeal to rectify any data errors that many exist in a shared database.

We consider that there is a potential risk to conveyancers where if one lender chooses to remove a firm from a panel for a valid reason e.g. failure to register a title within a priority period, this information will be shared and rather than being removed from one panel a conveyancer could find themselves being removed from all lender panels as the shared information is acted upon.  Data sharing will add to the consolidation process already occurring in the sector.

Also addressing the meeting was Francis Twambley, Land Registrar and Head of Registration Legal Services Group at HM Land Registry (HMLR). As part of HMLR’s commitment to improving its electronic services, Mr Twambley announced details of a pilot Electronic Document Registration Service for conveyancers, which planned to be rolled out in full by the end of the year. The new e-document registration service will provide a faster and more cost effective way for customers to submit and receive applications electronically instead of the current paper-based methods. Mr Twambley also highlighted the Government’s Red Tape Challenge initiative, the current focus of which, legal services includes land registration.

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