Brave new e-world

The author starts by remarking that the move to e-conveyancing will be evolutionary and not an overnight revolution. With this in mind, there is time to influence the final shape of things to come. In moulding this new e-world, the following factors and issues will be vital.

Political factors
These include the government's commitment to seeing e-conveyancing in place, deregulating the conveyancing profession and finding ways to define, measure and evaluate objectives.

Economic factors
The source of funding remains a problem; the government provides most of it and the rest of it comes from private enterprise. However, the risks of entering the market are high, and few conveyancing practices have the time or money to invest. Other organisations do not have the legal expertise. Solutions proposed include joint ventures, franchising, licensing and greater flexibility.

Social issues
At the core of this factor is the stark reality that the traditional legal system is not up to delivering the kind of outstanding customer service, transparency on fees, pro-active approach and access to up to date information that demanding customers want. This can be solved by combining conveyancers with estate agents or other professionals. However, this could pose a threat as even supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's have indicated that they wouldn't mind offering legal advice - including conveyancing.

On-line information and services are here to stay. The public wants more access and the Land Registry is aiming to make conveyancing an administrative process with minimal legal input. That said, the conveyancer's role will continue to be a key one since they will be in possession of the digital signatures. The point at which the public can access the system still has to be decided. High volume conveyancing operations using available technology are already producing good results. At the same time, adopting Extensible Markup Language (XML) to format data is achieving a level of integration between case management systems and other on-line sources of data.


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