A decade after abandoning its last attempt to put the conveyancing process in England and Wales online, the government is calling for views on what it should do to accelerate the process. ‘Harnessing digital technology’ is a major theme of the initiative to improve the home buying and selling process announced as part of the government’s plans to tackle the housing crisis. 

Introducing a call for evidence, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid states that the government is ’not looking to rip up the existing system and start again’. However ’we are on the cusp of a digital revolution which will allow us to replace the current largely paper-based approach to buying and selling. People assure us that in 25 years time it will all be very different. But we don’t want to wait 25 years for change - now is the time to have a grown-up conversation about the changes we need, and how to make them happen.’

Apart from seeking views on what the government should do to accelerate the development of e-conveyancing, the call for evidence asks:

  • How would a predominantly digital conveyancing process affect home buyers and sellers?
  • Are there any particular public sector datasets which you think should be released as open data in order to drive innovation in the home buying and selling process?
  • How could other parts of the home buying and selling process be improved through better use of digital technology? 

It states: 'To provide a firm foundation for a digital revolution in conveyancing, the government will continue to work with HM Land Registry to explore how data on property, such as leases, restrictions, covenants and easements, can be made available more easily. The government believes that this will improve the transparency of the purchase process and allow the private sector to create innovative ways to use this information.'

Land Registry's last attempt to set up an online conveyancing process was shelved in 2007. 

The deadline for responses to the government's call for evidence is 17 December.