Conveyancing in a digitalised world

This article, by Simon Farthing, Commercial and Marketing Director, LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions, first appeared in Today’s Conveyancer.

We are grateful to the publication for their permission to reproduce it here for the interest of EYE readers.


The CLC [The Council for Licensed Conveyancers is the regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers] may have challenged the industry to make conveyancing a fully electronic process by 2030, but COVID-19 has become the catalyst for digitalisation that no one could have ever predicted.

Just based on the last few weeks alone, there can be no doubt that a digital approach to conveyancing – and indeed for almost everything else – is the future.

This said, change has been already rife in the conveyancing sector over the last decade.

A fair amount of consolidation has taken place, reducing the number of conveyancers to just over 3000 in the UK.

Customer driven change

Arguably the biggest catalyst for change prior to Covid-19 was the increasing expectation of the consumer.

In an on-demand society we are now used to doing pretty much anything we need to online, when we want to.

The thought of receiving a vast reem of documents through the post, filling them in, sending them back and then booking a face to face meeting with a lawyer to sign paperwork, for many consumers feels like a step back in time.

They are demanding interactive online engagement, fewer staged touchpoints, more efficiency from the process, different and even more current forms of communication, and overall a smoother journey as they navigate a process that for most customers, is a stressful one.

Technology can facilitate a superior customer experience, and recently we are seeing a marked shift in mindset among conveyancers in embracing IT more holistically at the enterprise level.

For example, Simplify and O’Neill Patient, have underpinned their business with technologies that help to streamline processes, but also deliver the capability to make incremental improvements for the future.

Lack of common industry-wide IT infrastructure

There is yet a bigger barrier that prevents the conveyancing sector from taking advantage of the technology to meet consumer demands.

There is no common IT infrastructure backbone to support the conveyancing process, end to end.

To illustrate, there are case management software providers, due diligence software providers, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) submissions that can be done online, applications that can be submitted to the HM Land Registry via the electronic document registration service (e-DRS) and so on.

But there isn’t that golden thread that runs through these various technologies, online services and systems to make the conveyancing process seamless.

Clearly, there’s work to be done and the industry as a whole needs to come together to achieve the above.

This isn’t something that a technology or service provider can drive alone and needs government backing.

A good starting point

In the meantime, conveyancing firms can still make significant strides in the way they deliver service.

This unforeseen period of lull is potentially a good time for this kind of introspection.

Clearly there is nothing that any conveyancer can do to address a lockdown on the market, but they can be planning for a successful butterfly re-entry to the world when the cocoon opens.

And no, it does not require firms to throw out current systems and technologies and completely overhaul their processes.

It merely requires investigation into the current way of working, identifying the areas of weaknesses and gaps and then addressing them to make systematic improvements to streamline processes and operations through automation.

The ‘beginning’ is a good place to start – right when a customer makes contact to obtain a quote.

In a granular fashion, map the typical client journey and processes to evaluate the progression of a conveyancing transaction across its lifecycle – the touchpoints, the technologies used, the common glitches and so on.

For instance, an easy win lies in making the conveyancing process online and digital so that both the firm and customer can interact with an application and its processes when they want, how they want and from whatever device they want, including PC, smartphone, mobile apps, and online portals.

At the same time, removing repetitive demands for standard information such as contact details with electronic ID verification processes, offering online/digital welcome packs, and using digital signatures to do away with wet ink signatures are easy wins.

Likewise, introducing the ability to communicate with customers through online chats, video calls, and app-based messaging to strategically place human intervention in the process so that to deliver the most value, eliminating unnecessary open-ended questions that are notorious for holding up applications, and so on are worth exploring. The list is endless.

All this cumulatively can help eliminate steps that delay the progression of applications across the various phases of a transaction and make the process intuitive and easy to follow, for conveyancers, third parties and the customers.

Digitisation of data an imperative

Intrinsic to this approach must be the digitisation of data. It is fast becoming an operational imperative.

HM Land Registry is already moving towards a fully digital model and it’s only a matter of time that data schemes and standards are set with agreed fields and metatags to facilitate data flows across multiple systems.

Digitised data can deliver business insights to allow informed decision making and business operation.

For example, firms could monitor quality standards, that typically are considered difficult to quantify.

Most importantly, conveyancers will be able to take advantage of a whole range of new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, biometrics and blockchain to enable them to evolve business models and launch highly specialised and innovative services.

Current systems and services consumed are full of valuable data. A powerful case management system is built to tap into this knowledge.

Think about the data that is currently held, what the software application can do with that data, and what processes could be trigged by the system.

For example, knowing that a search is about to go out of date doesn’t require a human to order a new one.

Knowing that an enquiry remains outstanding doesn’t need a conveyancer to check it.

This is an ideal time to engage with your service provider and see what they can do to help you emerge stronger.

In fact, this is something we are actively doing with our clients – enabling them to better leverage the resources they already have.

While the conveyancing sector is experiencing challenging times today, there can be no doubt though that this is temporary.

We are a resilient breed and the tide will turn – and when it does, conveyancers must be well-poised for that upturn.

Current circumstances are unprecedented, but we have seen the success stories that have come from prior recessions and down turns, today is the time to think about how you will become one of the next success stories.

The original article on Today’s Conveyancer is here.


Email the story to a friend!


  1. RedRebel

    no money in Conveyancing unless you are scaled up. Therefore little chance for change and therefore risk until conveyancers are shut or have no choice

  2. Alan Murray

    There is no substitute for experience competence and professionalism. Bad conveyancers are still bad conveyancers no matter how much technology they possess, and there are plenty of examples out there doing a bad job for their clients.

    The technology argument is a red herring used by any of these firms to mask their shortcomings.

  3. #ImpressiveConveyancing

    Well said Alan.
    An article about conveyancing, to change conveyancing, written by a non-conveyancer.
    It is also annoying when CLC speak for the sector, as I would much prefer that they go their own members in order before they try to.
    The sooner ‘decision makers’ realise conveyancing is not a product/commodity, but an actual service – the age old goods and services distinction – where human skill is crucial, not how quickly information can be sent, the better for the public, and conveyancers too.
    Sadly I consider the agenda for change remains profit/money, nothing at all to do with making sure the public receive an impressive service
    (Imagine how many home owners have properties where their conveyancer made a legal mistake – fix that!)
    Right now, during lockdown, as I look after 60+ clients and try to have them ready to exchange/complete the moment lockdown is lifted, the issue I face is not the need for an I.T medium to help me communicate faster, or provide me with information – in fact not even a 1% need for anything digital or electronic – it is a wish for better quality conveyancers for me to transact with.
    1.    actually reply to my emails
    2.    who don’t champion paperless working only to them fail to proof read the documents they force their clients to complete electronically and then blindly forward to us
    3.    exist through great service not because they pay eyewatering amounts of referral fees to estate agents
    4.    don’t have a website which fails to reveal their conveyancers, so are completely anonymous
    5.    are all over moving their client’s transaction forward
    6.    don’t take 2+ weeks to send out even a plan for searches
    7.    don’t take 2+ weeks to reply to a single letter of enquiry
    8.    tell their clients right at the start that gas and electricity inspections are down to the buyer – caveat emptor – rather than ask the seller to do them 4 weeks into a deal
    9.    don’t ask for Council planning consents sat on the Council website
    10.  don’t ask for EPCs, or GASSAFE, OFTEC or FENSA all revealed on the relevant websites
    11.  don’t send reams and reams of enquiries, rather than thinking ‘I don’t need that answer to advise my client to proceed’
    12.  have a direct dial number where if you call, they can make instant decisions without speaking to a colleague/have their file signed-off
    13.  when you call to exchange and hear them you don’t fear for the quality of the legal advice they have given to their clients
    The list of petty delays to high value deals goes on….But nothing to do with digital information systems.


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.