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29 January, 2020
The role of the conveyancer is undoubtedly going to change as much of the administrative side of the role becomes automated over the coming years, a new report from the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has predicted.
Conveyancers will bank both time and cost savings, to be reinvested in improving the quality of service, upgrading technology and ensuring cyber security.
The paper Conveyancing 2030: A Discussion Paper, sees property lawyers focusing on advisory work where the quality of service – as rated by external comparison or feedback websites – will be decisive in where instructions go.
“Technology will radically improve transparency for consumers about what they are buying and the progress of their transaction. Because of the Internet of Things, properties will maintain up-to-date logbooks with little human intervention,” it says.
Upfront information about a property at the point of marketing – rather than waiting until later in the process for it – will be key to this.
“As the role changes, conveyancers will need to invest in training and skills acquisition for themselves and their staff. Soft skills such as communication skills, listening skills, and empathy will become ever more important as the ability to build relationships becomes even more central.”
The paper traces how the conveyancing process has and will continue to change, and highlights a range of questions that everyone involved – regulators, lawyers, estate agents, lenders, technologists and others – will have to grapple with to ensure that consumers benefit from it.
While the paper does not try to provide answers to all of the issues identified, it does seek to highlight areas the CLC believes will need considering by regulators, those in conveyancing and the wider stakeholders who will affect and influence how conveyancing will develop.
Key questions for the industry include whether Government should mandate the move to electronic conveyancing, rather than wait for incremental change, whether the law firm model will need to evolve to survive, and the extent to which regulators might need to regulate technology in addition to lawyers.
Conveyancing 2030 stresses how central data will become, delivering a ‘single source of truth’ on a property. But what needs to change to ensure all parties can trust the data? Who will validate the information and who becomes responsible if that data is incorrect or something goes wrong?
Chair of the CLC Dame Janet Paraskeva says: “I think many lawyers will be heartened by the prediction that there will be a greater focus on advisory work as the market changes and that it can be used to create a point of differentiation.
“However, while we can predict certain shifts in the market with confidence – in particular the inevitable move to electronic conveyancing – how they play out over the next decade remains uncertain.
“With so much work going on to improve and reform the process, we think now is the right time to take a wider view on what this all means in the long term and how we can ensure that the home buying and selling process works best for consumers, service providers and ultimately the UK economy.
“We do not claim to have all the answers but with change coming it is vital that we as a regulator and the community we regulate are thinking about how we make sure we are ready for what future developments may bring. I hope this report will fuel a discussion across the property industry and that conveyancers themselves will grasp the opportunity to shape their future.”
Notes to editors
The discussion paper explores six areas for future developments and encourages readers to join in developing the thinking and contribute to shaping what conveyancing may look like in 2030.
This can be done through email at Conveyancing2030@clc-uk.org or completing an online form at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Conveyancing2030
The CLC is the regulator of specialist property lawyers. Our mission is to deliver effective regulation of specialist property lawyers that protects consumers and fosters competition and innovation in the provision of legal services. We do so by setting entry standards and regulating providers to deliver high quality, accessible legal services. We work hard to ensure that our tailored approach to regulation fosters innovation in the delivery of legal services. Three-quarters of CLC lawyers think that regulation by the CLC provides value for money and supports innovation and growth in their business and the Legal Services Board gave us the best assessment of any of the front-line regulators in 2016.