The e-Conveyancing Process Explained
At this point in time, technology is racing ahead, and as a result most paper based forms of transaction and communication are quickly becoming obsolete. The reality is no different for conveyancing. Electronic conveyancing or e-conveyancing for short is starting to replace the more traditional form of paper-based conveyancing. Already, most firms use emails to communicate and most documents are scanned as digitally saved as back-ups. e-Conveyancing has several benefits including greater security and integrity, as well as a faster and cheaper transaction.
How is the e-conveyancing process carried out?
- Firstly, the seller’s conveyancing solicitor uses the e-conveyancing service to send the draft contract from his case management system to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor, automatic validation checks would compare contract data with Land Registry data and electronic messages would indicate any discrepancies. At this time, a new national database would be created on the system indicating, as each document is prepared, what the new register would look like.
- There would also be a facility for conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer to view Land Registry’s Day List prior to exchange of contracts, in order to see if there is a pending application which may adversely affect the transaction.
- At the contract stage, there would be an electronic equivalent of the present exchange of contracts. Contracts would be exchanged electronically when the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer had signalled that an agreement had been reached and contracts had been signed and released for electronic exchange. The system would provide for automatic exchange of contracts relating to all conveyancing transactions in a property chain. For this and other reasons, conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer might need to have electronic signatures and authentication from a recognized Certification Authority.
- A definite register entry would be made to record the conveyancing contract; the Register would automatically be frozen and would provide a priority period for the ensuing registration on completion. Provision to extend the priority period may be necessary for delayed completion.
- During this time, the draft electronic transfer and any draft electronic charges will be agreed and finalized. These documents will then be signed electronically in anticipation of completion just as they are in the existing paper system. Shortly before completion, all the parties to the conveyancing transaction would signal their readiness to complete in accordance with the terms of the contract.
- Registration would take place with completion. The changes signalled in the national register would be verified and the new version of the register would be finalized on the system.
- All types of payment and fees, including Stamp Duty Land Tax and Land Registry fees as well as payments between buyers, sellers, lenders and conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer, would be settled through an Electronic Funds Transfer system. The electronic process would ensure that all the fees are correct and remove any margin of error that may exist.
- Post-completion – It is hoped that no further action would be needed for transfers relating to registered land. When the purchase of unregistered land is included in a conveyancing chain of transactions, it will only be possible to achieve simultaneous completion and conditional registration for that transaction. This is because the unregistered title needs to be examined by Land Registry.
- The Conveyancing solicitor would also record on the system the stage reached on each conveyancing transaction. This would enable all the parties and authorities to see the progress of all the conveyancing transactions linked together in a chain. Conveyancing chains would thus become transparent.
Although the process seems lengthy and complicated, in practice it is very simple. Almost everything will be done electronically and every step of the process will be recorded for the other parties to see. As time goes on the procedure will become smoother and simpler as everyone will get used to it and all the conveyancing firms will eventually adapt electronic conveyancing.