Conveyancing Association announces date

CA launch Digital Conveyancing Protocol

The Conveyancing Association (CA) has launched its “Future Digital Conveyancing Protocol” document to help firms benefit from the range of digital services available to support the home buying and selling process, and to help deliver improvements in the efficiency and safety of it.

This specific Protocol has been written to include a range of recommendations for conveyancers acting on behalf of both the buyer and the seller, and is designed to help proactive firms make the most of the digital technology available and the greater use of upfront information.

The CA said the Protocol has been published in advance of a number of forthcoming initiatives in the technology space which will support process improvements, such as the use of digital ID – legislation is working its way through Parliament – and digital signatures – HM Land Registry is in pilot on the use of these with a number of firms.

The Protocol also pre-empts the next set of National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agent Team (NTSELAT) guidance on the use of material information, which is due in the Autumn and is expected to include a review of Part A information, and the launch of Parts B and C.

The CA Protocol includes its general aim, why firms should adopt it, its application, plus a range of information on how firms might approach the process, what digital applications/products/services they are able to use, how they fit with regulatory and Governmental requirements, and the range of information this can encompass.

It also includes recommendations for firms in terms of how they can approach the work, depending on whether they are acting for the seller or the buyer.

As a result of the publication of the Future Digital Conveyancing Protocol, the CA will be updating both its Technical Protocol and its Pledges in the coming weeks, and it is committed to updating the Digital Protocol itself in response to the initiatives and legislative announcements which are expected in the coming months.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at The Conveyancing Association, said:

“Following a range of discussions at a number of recent CA meetings and events, and in anticipation of what the sector can expect from the Government on greater use of digital ID, Land Registry on use of digital signatures, the work of the NTSELAT on material information, and our focus on delivering the mandation of Upfront Information in the home buying and selling process, this is an opportune time to launch our new Future Digital Conveyancing Protocol.

Many CA member firms are already using many of the digital aspects within the process already, and it’s clear they – and their clients – are benefiting from them, so we wanted to produce guidance and recommendations for how all conveyancers can make the most of this, and what standards they should be meeting when utilising these aspects.

The Protocol fits in with our commitment to process improvement, and particularly to the greater use of Upfront Information, combined with digital ID and signatures, and chain-view technology, property logbooks, etc which we believe will provide a huge step forward and drastically reduce the time it takes to complete and the wastage within our industry.”

Conveyancing firms can access this Protocol from the download section of the CA website, at: https://www.conveyancingassociation.org.uk/industry-guidance-training-and-downloads/

3 responses

  1. I don’t understand why this document is called the ‘Future’ Digital Conveyancing Protocol? There is almost nothing about the ‘future’ in it? Most of it is just common sense use of current tech.

    In the article Beth Rudolf mentions ‘chain-view technology’ but its not mentioned in the document. No mention anywhere about digital exchange of info between conveyancers (whether direct or via networks like Coadjute / PEXA) and nothing about ‘digital settlement’ as per the recent Project Meridian project.

    This document would be better labelled just ‘Digital Conveyancing Protocol’ and be accompanied by a seperate document dealing with what conveyancing might be like in the future. However, the document even falls down on its claim to represent current practice. Most importantly the document fails to address the key question:

    “What happens to all the digital information created ‘upfront’ when we get to the end of the transaction”? Is the CA now proposing that Upfront Info gets binned or locked into a conveyancers own systems at the end of a transaction?

    In 2017 the CA, among others, called for digital property logbooks and Beth mentions them in the text above but there is nothing about them in the document. The RLBA was formed in 2018, and the Register of Logbooks was launched this year. There are now more conveyancing companies able to set up logbooks that ones able to accept Upfront Information digitally, but this fact is ignored in the document. The list of conveyancers creating logbooks includes many CA member companies. So this document doesn’t even reflect the current ‘digital’ reality.

    We need the CA Protocol (and the Law Society Conveyancing Protocal) to reflect that a small number of conveyancers are building the future of digital conveyancing already. As well as not offering a vision of the future, this document barely reflects the reality of today.

    1. I wouldn’t be so negative, Nigel!

      I think this an another welcome step forward, following on from the Digital Property Market Steering Group’s formation. I don’t think that conveyancers are constantly scanning the horizon for pockets of innovation to follow – they look to their membership associations and regulators to be guided on what is best practice and, more importantly, what is considered safe.

      The specific mention of the Property Data Trust Framework, in particular, is a very welcome inclusion, and I’d hope to see others like The Law Society following suit. The PDTF already addresses both the data and its provenance, and I think we should be focussing our time and efforts on interoperability and adoption.

  2. It appears to me that whoever is saying this doesn’t really understand tech. Conveyancers want the simple life, meaning whatever they do will have to be a ‘plug-in’ API and have all the data integrate.

    Many will still not be able to reach the HMLR Safe Harbour standard (aka the Conveyancer’s “Get out of Jail Free” card, well not quite if there are other things amiss) if the end user doesn’t have a mobile device that will read digital chips or undertakes ‘the journey’ via a standard computer web cam as that is easier to do rather than a tiny little screen in your hands.

    I’ve not yet been sent a complete “Seller’s Pack” which includes searches carried out by the seller. Isn’t that what the CA firms signed up to or what their protocol says?

    Tech is not going to save the day. Sorting out the law and the hideous loopholes with the Building Safety Act, Management Fees, Estate Service Charges, etc. will. Getting third parties on board to provide information digitally (or even by email) will help.

    If you haven’t got mortgage lenders willing to accept electronically signed mortgage deeds (and let’s face it, that should be added as a question to the UK Finance Handbook), that’s your first hurdle as everything else can be done electronically.

    Many conveyancers still don’t know how to mark up or ‘exchange’ a digitally signed contract. Asking for an ’email exchange’ is going to be heading for disaster. Other conveyancers simply don’t know how to do digital TR1s.

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