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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Conveyancing Task Force set to reform industry

Conveyancing Task Force set to reform industry


A task force has been launched, looking to manage the transition into a digital future

A task force has been launched to reform conveyancing in England and Wales, with a view to managing the transition into a digital future.

Formed jointly by the Law Society, The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), The Conveyancing Association (CA), CILEx and the Bold Legal Group, it says its aim is to reform and enhance the conveyancing process and provide clarity and consistency for conveyancers and clients. 

Formation of the task force has been welcomed across the industry. 

Legal regulators have not yet been approached as the Task Force has been agreeing terms of reference and workstreams.

Lloyd Davies, operations director of the CA, said: “I am sure that they will be supporting of our best practice initiatives and we will be looking to work closely with them and seeking guidance where necessary as we move forward.”

Simon Law, SLC chairperson and chair of the Task Force, commented: “Conveyancing Task Force members have worked well together within the conveyancing profession for many years and it makes eminent sense that all five organisations come together under the Conveyancing Task Force banner to help the profession manage the transition into the digital future and identify opportunities for improving the process.”

Terms of reference have been agreed between Task Force members, creating a framework for working together. 

Law added: “Whilst working together to formulate and agree proposals, new procedures and due diligence under our agreed terms of reference, Task Force members still remain independent and accountable to their respective organisations and memberships.”

It has been widely acknowledged that, like many other industries, the impact of covid-19 has resulted in a challenging 12 months. Law Society president David Greene said: “The combination of the stamp duty land tax holiday and working from home has put conveyancing and those who practise it under enormous strain.”

Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an extension to the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday for a further three months to the end of June. The Conveyancing Task Force recently issued documents to members which provide a consistent approach for conveyancers should a matter not complete prior to the expiry of the SDLT holiday. 

Greene also reflected on the fact that the pandemic has “accelerated the appetite” of those in the industry for using digital solutions in certain aspects of the transaction process.

Adam Forshaw, managing director of O’Neill Patient, concurs: “By working together, the industry can look for better ways to make the process more efficient through the use of technology and sharing ideas.”

John Dobson, CEO of SmartSearch, a company that provides electronic anti-money laundering services, said money laundering has been a particular issue during the pandemic. 

He commented: “Top of the list of priorities for the task force should be stemming the tide of money laundering and financial fraud that has swept through the property market since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year.”

More information on the Task Force will be available on a dedicated website, due to launch in the Spring.