e-Conveyancing: What It’s All About
The world is continuously evolving, especially when it comes to technology. Technology is rapidly changing and a result everything is becoming more digital. Paper based forms of communication are quickly becoming obsolete, and electronic forms are taking their place. The same goes for conveyancing. Electronic conveyancing or e-conveyancing for short is starting to replace the more traditional form of paper-based conveyancing. It has been described as a secure, paperless, electronic, end to end and pre-sale to post-completion conveyancing process. Most firms use emails to communicate at this point in time and most documents are scanned and digitally saved as back-ups. e-Conveyancing is becoming more popular as it has several benefits such as greater security and integrity, as well as a faster and cheaper transaction. The total transaction time for a residential conveyance, from initial viewing of the property to completion, registration of ownership and discharge of the prior mortgage, could be 5 working days. This is a great improvement as traditional conveyancing can take up to 8 weeks.
So, how is e-Conveyancing carried out?
- The seller’s conveyancing solicitor uses the e-conveyancing system to send the draft contract to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor, automatic validation checks would compare contract data with Land Registry data and electronic messages would indicate any discrepancies.
- There would also be resources for the 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 version to complete the exchange of contracts. Contracts are exchanged electronically when the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer have decided that an agreement has been reached and contracts are then 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 multiple purposes, conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer might need to have electronic signatures and authentication from a recognized Certification Authority.
- A definite register entry is then created 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.
- Meanwhile, the draft electronic transfer and any other 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 displayed 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, such as the Stamp Duty Land Tax and Land Registry fees as well as other payments between buyers, sellers, lenders and conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer, would be paid via an Electronic Funds Transfer system.
- 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.
- After completion, it is hoped that no further action would be required 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 process is very accurate and removes any margin of error.