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Paperless conveyancing ‘the norm’ by 2025, Land Registry suggests

By Michael Cross >>

(1 September 2022)

Secure paperless buying and selling of property ‘could be the norm’ by 2024-25, HM Land Registry has suggested in its latest strategy for end-to-end digital conveyancing. The aspiration appears in the agency’s Strategy 2022+, published yesterday along with a three-year business plan. 

Announcing the strategy, the registry said it is inviting the UK property sector ‘to work in partnership to create a simpler, paperless and transparent process for buying and selling property which will benefit homeowners across the country’. Work will include a ‘significant investment’ to enable the end-to-end automation of up to 70% of all updates to the register by 2025. ‘Automated applications will be completed within one day – many of them in seconds,’ the strategy states. 

The registry will also encourage the market to adopt new technology such as digital identity verification and e-signatures, which are seen as essential to the paperless process.

Introducing the strategy, chief executive and chief land registrar Simon Hayes, said: ‘The very high level of activity in the property market in recent times has underlined the urgency with which all players in the market need to work together to improve the system. With property transactions taking record time to complete, it is imperative that we work as partners to innovate and remove friction so that the process is as quick and painless as possible.

‘For HM Land Registry, that means a step-change in our offering to customers so that they receive an outstanding, fully digital service.’

In a statement published by the registry, Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce welcomed the strategy, saying: ‘Technological change in the conveyancing market, which was accelerated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, continues at pace. We look forward to continuing to work with Land Registry and the industry more widely to further digitise the conveyancing process, to promote better and earlier decision-making and make residential property transactions smoother for buyers and sellers.’

The quest for electronic conveyancing has seen several false starts over the past two decades. In 2011 HM Land Registry shelved trials of a pioneering ‘chain matrix’ online system in 2011, after several years of work. Four years later, the Law Society announced the closure of its Veyo project. 

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)