E-conveyancing could save the day

Some solicitors feel enslaved by the financial power of lenders. Now e-conveyancing could help them gain influence. Denis Cameron, chairman of the Law Society's conveyancing and land law committee, who will be chairing a session on "Working with lenders in a new era for conveyancing" at the Law Society's annual conference in October, says that: "You feel a bit like [a slave] - lenders are so powerful but the buck always stops with the solicitor. Solicitors now routinely do work for lenders, effectively for nothing, while they put more and more obligations on us."

Solicitors are annoyed by lenders who grant over-long mortgage offers, do poor surveys, retain money, have trouble in getting deeds, and cause problems with undertakings on flexi-mortgages. Although the move towards e-conveyancing is stagnating a little, the new electronic discharge system is working well. The move however is irreversible and one spin-off will be that companies - possibly lenders or property companies - will set up chain-breaking services, so that when a chain is about to break, they will step in and sell the property on later to keep the chain going. Such services don't exist at the moment because companies can't manage the risk. But with e-conveyancing, one can see the whole chain of transactions.

Richard Barnett sees two types of conveyancer in the future - bulk firms, which give a good service at a reasonably competitive price, and those serving clients who want their hands held during the transaction and are prepared to pay for it. Clients should have that choice. In many ways the debate has now moved on from asking the question "is the future e-conveyancing?" to "how do we make it work as well as possible?".

Article on the Law Gazette

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