Electronic conveyancing remains on the agenda of the Land Registry despite proving ‘more difficult to realise than anyone had thought’, the chief land registrar said this week.

Speaking at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on conveyancing, Malcolm Dawson outlined the Land Registry’s vision to be ‘a world leader in the digital delivery of land registration services’. He also revealed ambitions to expand the registry’s role in facilitating local searches.

The registry has begun a year-long pilot to test its proposal to transfer the statutory local land charges register from local authorities and digitise its content. The web version of its electronic document registration service, targeted at lower-volume high street conveyancers, went live last week and, Dawson said, has processed 2,000 dealing applications.

He said the Registry ‘must move with the tide of technological change and exploit the opportunities that presents’.

At the same event, Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said banks need to ‘smarten up their game’ to tackle mortgage fraud. He said the overwhelming majority of property frauds were not perpetrated by solicitors but said they need to drive up standards.

Hudson stressed the need for clients to use solicitors, saying: ‘You’ve got a screw loose if you’re going to buy a house and not use a solicitor.’

Promoting the Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, he said: ‘We recognise, as our members should, that being a solicitor isn’t enough anymore.’