The real threat of another COVID-19 outbreak will make people less tolerant of a paper-based approach to conveyancing. In the Land Registry’s latest annual report, chair Michael Mire predicted a shift to digital conveyancing in the coming years. The Land Registry will begin by digitizing the most common transaction types such as removing a mortgage, transferring ownership, and applying charges. The automation of conveyancing tasks using artificial intelligence (AI) has already started. Andrew Trigg acting director of digital, data and technology said:

‘Our robots now examine more than 25,000 applications per week to check whether any other corresponding applications for the same land or property already exist in the system. This saves valuable time for our registration experts. We are testing how artificial intelligence can further reduce time-consuming manual tasks, with some promising early results.’

So why go digital?

There’s a worldwide movement pushing the law to become more inclusive of technology and if it is used correctly, it could certainly improve the conveyancing process. One of the biggest concerns relates to the verification of the parties involved in the transaction. This is often done in the old-fashioned way where a client will visit the solicitor’s practice with photo identification.

With secure two-factor identification processes, we could see a move away from this. There are systems that can carry out identity checks by matching images of documents with ‘selfies’ taken on the client’s phone. Facial recognition technology uses biometrics to map facial features and online banks such as Monzo already use this type of verification.  If this is a topic that interests you, read the Law Commission’s report on the electronic execution of documents for a bit more information.

Using less paper could also be more environmentally friendly and save thousands in printing costs. Moving away from a paper file would also speed up the transfer of documents too. It could very well be that the conveyancing process becomes much quicker as more tasks become automated and digitized.

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