BIS ‘Call for evidence’ presents significant opportunity for conveyancing sector

BIS ‘Call for evidence’ presents significant opportunity for conveyancing sector

There are certainly moments in life and business which come laden with importance; at the time of writing we are just days away from a political and economic one with the EU Referendum vote set to take place. However, a little closer to home, one definitely has the feeling that, in terms of the future of conveyancing, we are also standing at an important fork in the road. The work that we choose to do now, the route that we seek to walk down, is likely to have a fundamental impact on the conveyancing process itself and the work that we carry out for many years to come.

At our recent Management Committee Meeting, the CA was able to clarify a number of issues with regards to the forthcoming BIS ‘Call for evidence’ review of the homebuying process. While the timing of its publication is still unknown, and one can only think there will be much political water under the bridge before it might see the light of day, no-one can deny this is going to be a hugely influential review and one that requires full input from the conveyancing industry if we are going to secure the ‘wins’ we want to see.

Our anticipation is that regardless of the political ramifications currently working themselves through the system, the ‘Call for evidence’ will be published this year. This allows the Association to use our Annual Conference in December as a focal point for discussions around its content and will mean we can debate fully all the different areas within the publication.

To that end, and given the importance of this, the Association has decided to set up a Working Group from amongst our management and members to feed into our thoughts on what we would like the process to look like when the BIS eventually comes to make its recommendations. Again, the timings of when they might report back are unknown, but we must consider that sometime in 2017 we will be able to see the direction of travel they want to take.

Before then however we have some significant discussions of our own to have and we’ll be producing our own White Paper on this. There has already been much speculation about how the process can be made fairer, more transparent, less costly, quicker, etc, and we will be sharing our thoughts in these areas. Some are suggesting that a HIP variation will be one of the recommendations, although the Government will be loathe to call it a HIP given the way this was eventually phased out.

There has already been use of the term ‘Skinny HIP’ or ‘Son of HIP’ but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty the name is something of an irrelevance. The most important part of any delivery of up-front information is around what will be provided – what will that ‘Skinny HIP’ include – and whether this will actually get us any closer to cutting down on some of the unnecessary delays that can be a result of requesting that particular information further down the line.

As an Association we have to be the leading voice in terms of how we believe the homebuying process can be improved, and what changes will allow this to happen. This, of course, isn’t just in terms of the conveyancing process itself but also in all other areas from placing a home on the market to the completion – we shouldn’t be afraid to think the unthinkable on this either. Yes, this is a process which comes with plenty of baggage but again this feels like a real opportunity to shape it for the better and to potentially draw a significant line in the sand.

Our Working Group will meet in the near future to begin sketching out the Association’s views on this, and we will be urging our members to get involved and to make sure the changes are relevant and help the process. This is a big moment for our sector and we fully intend to lead from the front.


Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the Conveyancing Association

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