The Law Society is currently working on the development of an online conveyancing portal to transform the conveyancing process for the benefit of solicitors, clients and stakeholders. It will be provide a pan-industry solution, accessible by conveyancing solicitors and licensed conveyancers, and will improve the collaboration and communication between all parties and stakeholders. Clients and, over time, lenders will also have controlled access to monitor progress and case milestones.
You can view videos on the Law Society website that outline the concept and describe the benefits it will deliver to manage risk, cost and improve collaboration (www.lawsociety.org.uk/conveyancingportal).
The functionality is being designed with input from a wide range of conveyancing firms of varying sizes including the 2,800 Conveyancing Quality Scheme firms (CQS) and bulk conveyancers. We found strong support from members in our survey carried out in the summer which asked firms to rank the benefits they believe the portal could deliver.
The unique feature of this platform will be a secure deal room where key contractual documents can be shared and contracts exchanged on line. The potential for a chain view is also being explored to help prioritise and manage client expectations of the speed and progress of their own individual transaction.
The portal concept was first explored in 2009 but was put on hold while we developed the CQS and revised the Society’s Conveyancing protocol that will be embedded in the process workflow. Developments in technology and particularly in cloud systems since then have mad the portal concept more viable. This also means that access can be delivered via mobile devices, smart phones, laptops and tablets (all accessible 24/7), providing a significant benefit for all parties.
There will be cost savings on DX, post, fax, telephone and fee-earner time spent chasing updates. Risk and regulatory compliance will also be built into the platform and security features will leverage the strength of the trusted and vetted CQS community.
Features being considered include:
- Secure functionality to streamline processes and evidence compliance – CQS, regulatory, financial etc
- Identity checks of the conveyancer and the firm and also to standardise client AML checking
- Provision of a secure area for each firm to manage its transactions and interact with the other side
- Embedding the conveyancing protocol and regulatory requirements in the automated workflow and process map
- Delivering a suite of relevant, industry standard, smart e-Forms
- Integration with Land Registry, HMRC and lenders
- Integration with resources such as search providers
- Integration with case management systems
- Conveyancers will be able to communicate with clients and give them access progress information.
- Potential for panel management solution for lenders.
The portal implementation and functionality will be phased and the development work and engagement with firms and stakeholders is ongoing. If you would like to get involved and share your views on the essential requirements and benefits you believe an on-line platform could deliver please email the design team at Conveyancing.Portal@LawSociety.org.uk.
Nicholas Fluck is President of the Law Society, 2013–2014. He is one of two partners in Stapleton & Son a traditional general practice and High Street firm in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Nick has a particular interest in communications and data technology and previously chaired the Law Society’s Technology and Law Reference Group.