Going digital is a phrase we are all familiar with. Implicit in the word ‘digital’ is the understanding that whatever it is that is going digital, will be easier and quicker to access and use. After recently signing up to a B&Q card, I find following a purchase, the receipt drops into my email box within 24 hours. A simple idea, but on that one occasion when I need to return an item and I need the receipt, I now know I will be able to find it. This type of going digital is a welcome service, especially if you are someone who knows instinctively that the one time you need a receipt, it cannot be found, or has been used by a child to wrap up their expended gum!
In the domain of conveyancing the Government wants to lead the world in its digital capabilities. An example of how this bold statement will be implemented can be found in The HM Land Registry (HMLR) annual report of 2016/17. The ambition is for HMLR to be the “world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data”. They hope to achieve this by 2030. You might ask how they will know if they have achieved this challenging goal. Well, the quality and speed of land registration is actually ranked by the World Bank. So, it is a target with some credibility.
How does a digital HMLA help us?
Well, rather like my B&Q example, well organised and accessible digital platforms should speed up processes, and automate key parts of the registry’s work. For example, it should enable greater use of paper-free legal deeds with regard to mortgagees, or give easier access to the 24.8 million property titles. Anything that makes the conveyancing faster and smoother is to be welcomed.
One of the main drivers for the HMLR’s ambitious plans came from the Government’s white paper of February this year called: “Fixing our broken housing market.” At its core, the paper sets out the Government’s stated aim of wanting to build more homes. As the Secretary of State Sajid Javid puts it. “This country doesn’t have enough homes. That’s not a personal opinion or a political calculation. It’s a simple statement of fact.”
The solution, outlined in the 106-page paper involves a number of framework steps including planning for the right homes in the right places and building them faster. Crucially, to be able to achieve this the Government recognises that there has to be a considerable improvement in the digital tools and from this comes the ambitious plan stated above.
The early phase will focus on identifying appropriate areas throughout the country for new homes by comprehensively registering land, initially prioritising public sector land. Aside from improving registration it will also look at working with the private sector to test new digital registration.
This considerable shift to a more digitally-focussed business is designed to allow it to change and evolve with the consumers’ needs and all of this should make the overall conveyancing process ‘quicker, cheaper and simpler for everyone’ to quote Graham Farrant, The Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar.
Of course, in the short term very little will change and there is a cautionary note attached to any outline plane to build more homes. This is a goal that has been stated many times before. However, the plans for HMLR to become a digitally–driven organisation sound much more promising and regardless of how many new homes are built, without question, the day-to-day world of conveyancing will certainly benefit considerably which will allow us to offer an even better service for our customers.
Solicitor & Director – Residential & Commercial Property
0117 973 1391