Hacking Stops Land Registry E Conveyancing Reforms

Paul Hajek | 12 Jul 2011

how hacking affects conveyancing reformAt a time when the rest of the news is dominated by “hacking” scandals, it is reassuring, that in the relatively mundane world of conveyancing, an opportunity for further fraud has been nipped in the bud.

E conveyancing, the system of paperless property transactions, was dealt a fateful blow last week in the Annual Report from the Land Registry. The Land Registry is the Government department which records all property transactions in England and Wales

The Land Registry, which had been championing the cause of e conveyancing by pressing for the introduction of electronic land transfers and e-signatures, announced that it was abandoning the project.

Malcolm Dawson the Chief Land Registrar said that:

Over a six year period…41m was invested to deliver a suite of e-services including portal, e-security and business gateway”

The Chief Land Registrar went on to conclude that ” following the feedback it is clearly better to halt development of e-transfers now, before significant further sums are expended, than to continue to develop a product we are not confident our customers will use”

Other reason given were the slow housing market, problems encountered with using other electronic Land Registry processes such as e-signatures.

Pause for Thought

We at Clutton Cox are pleased with the cessation and think that is a good idea.

The Land Registry can now fully concentrate on improving its existing services

The Land Registry has done sterling work over the last few years in simplifying and modernising the home buying process.

There has been continuing concern among users that any such system will be open to abuse, and that the Registry could not guarantee a secure system against hackers.

Further changes to E conveyancing by the Land Registry would be a step too far.

Conveyancing solicitors can access titles at the Land Registry on line which has speeded up the Conveyancing process. Lenders are able to discharge mortgages via direct access to the Land Registry.

However, the lemming-like rush towards total e-conveyancing can now pause for breath and thought.

Everyone involved, not just the Land Registry, but Conveyancing Solicitors can reassess, how might the conveyancing process be improved in other ways.

The Spectre of Fraud

The main reason for the abandonment of the e-conveyancing project is undoubtedly fraud.

We recently posted our concerns over the increased levels of Property Title Theft,

Property Title Theft has been a direct result of a combination of open access to the Land Register and the abolition of Land and Charge Certificates.

What future for e Conveyancing

The Law society is optimistic that the measures are temporary and that re introduction of electronic transfer of documents is inevitable.

How the Law Society sees progress now in conjunction with the newly formed “Conveyancing Quality Standard or CQS”. You can read more about the CQS scheme here.

The Law Society believes CQS gives an opportunity for the Law Society to work with the Land Registry to create within the trusted community of CQS law firms, a dealing room where conveyancing documents could be created, stored and accessed for use by property professionals involved in the conveyancing process.

Better perhaps in the long run to be hacked-off by imperfections in the conveyancing process than be a victim of actual hacking and losing your home

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