Conveyancing solicitors fear HM Land Registry could put jobs at risk after learning that the agency has built a 'chatbot' online property adviser.

The adviser is one of three 'proofs of concept' which HM Land Registry has developed as part of the ambitious digital transformation plans, a conference heard today. 

John Abbott, HM Land Registry's director of digital, told the Conveyancing Association's annual conference in London today that, following the digitisation of the register, the adviser is 'an attempt to demonstrate that if we have all that data in one place you can do the due diligence much easier than you can today.'

The development unnerved some attending solicitors, who were shown a demonstration of how the adviser would work. Eddle Goldsmith, Conveyancing Association chair, asked Abbott whether solicitors will soon be printing their P45s.

Abbott said the adviser 'is just a vision of what we could build. I'm definitely not saying Land Registry will build that'. However, he warned: 'If I were a conveyancer...I would hire as many technologists as I do solicitors. I expect, certainly, the administrative elements of more work will disappear over the next few years.'

Abbott insisted that conveyancers will still have a role to play in terms of offering advice. 'I would focus on adding most value through the advice bit rather than the administrative bit,' he said.

HM Land Registry and technologists spent two days building the proofs of concept. The instant mortgage concept enables lenders to make an instant decision based on having all the relevant information about the borrower and the property. The transaction focuses on the exchange between the buyer and seller, and transferring funds which are recorded on a blockchain-based ledger.