digital question mark reflecting enquiries

Enquiries: AI solution secures development funding

A start-up conveyancing enquiries business has won “substantial backing” from investors and government to help fund the development of a solution designed to reduce the burden of enquiries for practitioners.

Collaborative Conveyancing, set up by Chris Harris and Karen Babington, has secured the grant from Innovate UK in partnership with the Hartree Centre, and completed a fundraising round to enable it to further develop its work to help conveyancers reduce the pressures in the system through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The technology uses workflow automation with artificial intelligence and natural language processing to conveyancing to build an automated solution for property lawyers that reads inbound enquiries, classifies them, and structures responses.

Chris Harris and Karen Babington sold Lawyer Checker – a bank account verification service for conveyancers during funds transfer – and Today’s Media to Dye and Durham and the current owners respectively in 2021.

On the opportunity for Collaborative Conveyancing, Karen Babington said:

“Last year we secured a strong collaborative relationship with Simplify which gave us the confidence to really focus on this problem. The investment and grant endorses the work we are doing.”

David Grossman, CEO of Simplify commented:

“Simplify are delighted to have contributed to the progress of this exciting project and to have supported the successful grant application. We look forward to working with the Collaborative Conveyancing team as they develop their innovative solution to improving the process of dealing with enquiries.”

An estimated 30% of a conveyancer’s time is spent dealing with enquiries with Harris describing the current system as a “manual exchange process of complex, unstructured information [which] contributes significantly to the problem.” A Today’s Conveyancer survey in May 2022 cited that 74% of conveyancers had seen an increase in enquiries which in turn have a significant impact on fall throughs. Chris Harris said:

“There has been significant commentary and discussion about the increase in conveyancing enquiries and the bottleneck in the home buying process causing substantial stress and pain.  The press is full of developments in AI. So, we are bringing all the best of AI and language processing to help alleviate the problem.

After a year’s hard work, we are so proud that our early work is recognised by Innovate UK as having the potential to make a substantial difference. Our solution focuses on supporting conveyancers when dealing with the overload they face whilst remaining at the heart of the process, so they can do the job they were trained for.”

Chris Harris, co-founder, Collaborative Conveyancing

Dr Rob Firth, Senior AI Research Scientist at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre added:

“I’m excited to be working again with the team in scaling up and pushing the performance of the AI components through this work. The field of natural language processing is moving very fast and we have only begun to discover what these technologies can do. This project builds on proof-of-concept work completed as part of the ERDF-funded Cheshire and Warrington 4.0 (CW4.0) project, supporting SMEs to use digital technology.”

Chris Harris concluded:

“We are building something that has the opportunity to really support conveyancers of all shapes and sizes in their day-to-day work. Anyone that is interested to learn more, please get in touch.”

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

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

Read more stories

Join over 7,000 conveyancing professionals – Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our daily and weekly round ups

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