ai conveyancing

AI: What does it mean for conveyancing?

The power of artificial intelligence (AI) has reverberated around the world in recent months. Whether driven by excitement, concern, or apathy, many have asked: what does it all mean for conveyancing?

The answer to this question changes with each passing day. However, by looking at how AI is already being deployed within the property and legal sectors, it’s possible to gain an insight into how it may change the conveyancing process in years to come.

What is AI?

When asked the above question, ChatGPT says: “AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.”

It adds: “AI systems use algorithms and statistical models to learn from data and make predictions or decisions without being explicitly pogrammed for every possible scenario.” This is known as machine learning (ML).

One important use of AI is in language models. Through training on large sets of text or data – which may, for example, include laws or common legal queries – language models can identify common patterns, structures, or relationships between words and data, using this to generate new text as a result.

One famous language model is, of course, ChatGPT, which uses natural language processing (NLP), allowing it to understand and interpret human language.

AI and the legal sector

While AI is not a novel concept, it is undoubtedly capturing more interest than ever before. In the last several weeks, it has made headlines by producing viral music, spotting cancer, driving taxis, winning awards for photography, and more.

This capability extends, somewhat, to the legal sector. GPT-4 – OpenAI’s successor to ChatGPT – also scored in the 90th percentile for the Bar examination in the United States. A Colombian judge recently used ChatGPT in a judgment, and Magic Circle lawyers are joined by their robotic colleague, Harvey.

Indeed, Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, recently said AI is “likely to transform the work that lawyers need to do and possibly, in the slightly longer term, the business of judging”.

His prediction is somewhat echoed by lawyers responding to a recent Thomson Reuters survey, with 82% saying ChatGPT / generative AI can be applied to legal work. Asked whether it should be applied to legal work, however, just 51% said yes.

AI and conveyancing

“The use of AI in the legal sector is following the usual pattern for new technology,” said Peter Ambrose, Managing Director, The Partnership. “The initial excitement followed by dismissiveness, a bit of fear and then an eerie silence where everyone asks: “is anyone actually doing anything with this stuff?”

On the Land Registry’s side, they are already utilising NLP and ML through their document comparison tool. What’s more, a Land Registry spokesperson told Today’s Conveyancer that HMLR are “actively exploring the use of AI and ML” to support their teams in automating applications. They added:

“We anticipate that, as the efficiencies these tools can offer are realised and understood, all those involved in the property market will gradually adopt and integrate them in their wider work.”

Regarding the role of a conveyancer, what is clear is that AI will not solve their ongoing building safety plight, nor will it absolve them of their climate change responsibilities, help manage fees, or reduce the cost of indemnity insurance in the immediate term.

Ultimately, the conveyancer – with all of their skill experience – is the person helping a client move from one home to another.

There is, however, a consensus that AI has real potential to make a conveyancer’s life easier by acquiring the burden of the many manual, cumbersome tasks expected of them throughout a transaction. This is accompanied by a view that it may also reduce requisitions and speed up transactions in the process.

Indeed, AI-enabled solutions to many of conveyancers’ problems are already a reality. Collaborative Conveyancing is producing a language model that will read emails using NLP, identify enquiries, and fulfil them appropriately.

Orbital Witness’s AI produces a standardised, automated check against key aspects of a leasehold property, “breaking it down into key parts and providing answers to questions in a report format that links back to the individual clauses in the documents that informed its decision-making”.

Avail’s AI is automating title due diligence. Luminance processes legal documents using AI. Conveyo is using AI to collate property information into a home information pack at the point of listing.

This list of examples is not exhaustive, and each one presents a real route towards AI-enabled conveyancing in the not so distant future.

‘AI: What does it mean for conveyancing?’ will soon return with new iterations focused on the specific use cases of AI in conveyancing, including the above examples.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 5,000 other practitioners – sign up to our free newsletter

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.