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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Land Registry begins journey down 'digital street'

Land Registry begins journey down 'digital street'


New pilot forms part of tech transformation programme paving the way for digital mortgages

A new pilot scheme for digital conveyancing that will explore technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence is to be launched this summer, HM Land Registry has announced.

The ‘Digital Street’ pilot aims to improve the overall process of land registration and buying or selling homes by working with the private sector to research and test new digital registers. It will form part of a new digital strategy put forward by the registry in its first annual report since the government announced it was to remain in the public sector.

‘Alongside the key role we already play in the property market, our transformation will help support the UK in developing a vibrant and innovative digital economy,’ said chief executive and chief land registrar Graham Farrant.

‘Our plans not only involve the digitisation of our existing services but we will explore how, through new digital technology, we can help to potentially release even more value from the Land Register.’

Also on the registry’s agenda this year is the opening up of the digital mortgage service to more users following positive feedback from borrowers in the private beta stage. The service currently uses the government’s Verify service to allow the borrower to sign mortgage deeds digitally.

HM Land Registry also wants to explore how it can work closer with Ordnance Survey as it looks to share the mapping agency’s geospatial intelligence to support growth in the PropTech, LawTech, and FinTech sectors.

The Find Property Information service, which allows members of the public to view a title summary, will also be trialled after more than 100 research sessions helped to make the service more user-friendly, the registry said.

The registry will also take steps to improve its IT infrastructure through the common technology platform as a wider strategy to replace its current IT systems over the next five years.

More of the registry’s datasets will be opened up externally and across government to support infrastructure development, financial security, tax collection, law enforcement and national security.

The registry says its digital reforms are central to achieving a streamlined land registration service as it looks to meet the government’s targets of becoming a data-driven organisation and achieving comprehensive digital registration in England and Wales by 2030.

The Conveyancing Association said it was 'very supportive' of the reforms. Its chairman, Eddie Goldsmith, said 'this work by the Land Registry is exactly what we want to see to help transform our current unsatisfactory and antiquated 19th century process into an end to end digital conveyancing process fit for 21st Century clients.'

He added: 'Clients are used to signing all sorts of business agreements electronically – this initiative by the Land Registry will play a significant part in helping us along the way to modernising the conveyancing process.'

Matthew Rogers, reporter | @lex_progress