Chancery Lane’s new portal will help firms manage risk, cut costs and serve clients.
The Gazette feature on conveyancing paints an interesting and informative picture of the current state of the conveyancing market and the challenges facing member firms of all sizes, as they come out of the downturn and ride the wave of recovery in the market.
More importantly, it is encouraging to note the unanimity among the broad range of commentators that the Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme has delivered support and benefit for the 3,000 firms signed up so far, and that plans to develop an electronic portal are welcomed by members and key stakeholders such as the Conveyancing Association.
As with any period of downturn or recession, businesses that survive emerge into a changed environment. They must adapt to new ways of working if they are to take full advantage of new and increased commercial opportunities.
For our conveyancing members, this means responding to increased demands from lender panels and key stakeholders, while a more ‘e-savvy’ and discerning client base is demanding 24/7 access to legal services.
The Society is therefore working on the development of the conveyancing portal, which will be a capability leveller for members, and transform the interaction and communication between stakeholders and clients. We have also invited lenders to collaborate with us, as they did with the launch of the CQS, so that the portal design can meet their needs for validated data on panel members and improve the communication between solicitors and lenders in a secure environment.
We are also engaging with the Land Registry as it continues to develop its own Gateway and e-services.
We know there are many large and growing firms and providers who have developed sophisticated systems that serve their own internal and client needs. Their investment and services operate well ahead of the level of the majority of our members. However, these well-resourced players still need to be able to interact in transactions across the entire market and with providers outside their own bespoke/internal platforms.
Therefore we aim to give equal access to all participants in the market and, over time, create a pan-industry solution that will facilitate online exchange in a secure deal room. This will provide a ‘chain view’ that will enable firms to prioritise, plan more effectively and manage the expectations of clients.
We intend to provide tools within the platform that will cut cost, avoid duplication and produce a better experience for consumers and stakeholders. View a series of videos on the Law Society website to see how the portal will help you manage risk, reduce cost and collaborate more effectively.
The portal will also ensure compliance with the Society’s conveyancing protocol that is mandatory for CQS firms and will, over time, drive up standards and compliance across the industry. Regulatory requirements and anti-money laundering and search obligations will be catered for.
The Society has the interests of the profession at heart, and can bring all stakeholders together in a way that other commercial providers would find challenging. We also have to take account of the public interest. Therefore a key objective is to make the conveyancing process more efficient and transparent with reduced risk for all.
We fully recognise that this is an ambitious project, but our approach is to design and deliver this with the collaboration and input of the market. We had very positive feedback to our online survey and focus groups over the summer. This has enabled us to come up with an initial concept for phased delivery, incorporating the features that you believe will deliver the most benefit and minimise the problems with the ‘off-line’ cumbersome transaction process.
We followed this up with a second poll recently and hope that many of you will respond.
If you would like to get more involved and speak to our design team please email us at Conveyancing.Portal@lawsociety.org.uk.
Nigel Spencer is the Law Society’s chief of commercial affairs