What Lies Ahead For Conveyancing In 2019?
Buying and selling property and land may be an unchanging fixture in the lives of millions, but the conveyancing process will continue to evolve in the coming months.
At Searches UK, we look at some big changes the legal industry can expect to embrace in 2019.
Embracing price transparency
New rules on price transparency were introduced in December by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). All solicitors’ firms regulated by the SRA are now obliged to publish information on the prices they charge for conveyancing and probate, among other services.
Firms must also provide clients or prospective clients with a typical timescale for the quoted services. In addition, their staff’s experience and qualifications should be available for inspection, ideally on a website but in accessible formats where the firm does not have an online presence.
Providing clearer information on fees should also benefit the communication between law firms and their clients, with clients clear from the start of the process what their financial outlay is likely to be.
Expansion of e-conveyancing
Digitisation in conveyancing is likely to be the biggest game-changer of all.
In 2019, the Land Registry’s Digital Street – its project on conveyancing and the land registration process now in its second year – wants to complete the first fully digital transfer of a property.
Digital Street is also exploring the benefits of blockchain and distributed ledger technology for land registration and conveyancing, while also considering how identities can be checked and shared securely for those buying and selling land and property.
Many law firms are already embracing technology that allows clients to complete documents and forms online securely. Digital document-reading will also cut out some of the admin costs and time by speeding up that element of the process.
Mobile apps that allow clients to fill in forms and upload documents from their smartphone or tablet are also expected to widen the digital footprint in conveyancing, while improved interactivity on websites will do the same.
Firms large and small are likely to increase their case management and customer engagement systems.
Increased digitisation brings with it an increased threat to client security. Ensuring online activity and personal information remains safe and secure will be a priority for all firms pioneering these new, exciting options.
Firms are already acutely aware of their responsibilities towards client data, reinforced by the updated Data Protection Act that became law in June 2018 and incorporates EU law on data protection.
Along with data protection, security will be improved through the expanded use of digital signatures on contracts and other paperwork. Those whose signatures are required will have their identities verified through the gov.uk verify system.
Minimising the risks of fraud
Conveyancing solicitors are already aware of the risks of fraud when large sums of money change hands in a sale or purchase. Secure electronic platforms are essential for when funds are being moved.
The SRA’s proposed digital badge will alert clients to which law firms are regulated by the SRA, a similar system to one already in place from the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.
Lisa Summerton Searches UK Business Development Director commented:
2019 is looking to be another challenging year, however, the many regulatory and technological developments that are happening also present a fantastic opportunity to improve the conveyancing process and provide a better customer experience. We at Searches UK are continually looking to improve our technology processes and at the same time maintain our impeccable customer service standards.
This article was submitted to be published by Searches UK as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.