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Goodbye dusty old files, hello e-world.

Byline: By Hilary Brown

Demands for reforms to the conveyancing system are coming from both the Government and the public.

Pilot schemes, modernisation and innovations by the Land Registry and the mortgage lenders are creating the chance for e-conveyancing by the legal profession to streamline the process.

The Land Registration Act 2002 creates simpler registration procedures and paves the way for an e-conveyancing pilot scheme due in 2005.

Also in the pipeline is the Housing Bill 2006, putting the home information pack back on the table. The pack will contain an electronic logbook of a property, including registers of legal title, searches and a home condition and energy efficiency report.

The Land Registry is also implementing new services including:

* Electronic registers

* Applications for some registrations can now be made online.

Additionally, mortgage lenders are now offering:

* Online application services;

* Standard solicitors' rules set out in a handbook known as the Council of Mortgage Lenders' Handbook;

* Discharge of mortgages electronically;

* Title deeds can now be held electronically in registers at the Land Registry so lenders are accepting electronic versions and will no longer hold paper copies.

The legal profession is taking advantage of new software which will allow:

* Electronic search services offered by the National Land Information Service, a government-driven service using a central hub on the internet which collates search applications and passes them to the information providers, such as the local authority, which, in return, submit search results electronically to the applicant.

* The Land Registry Direct Service, which makes available to the legal profession results of title searches in minutes rather than days, online.

* Case management software systems which, using work flows, ensure that team members in legal offices are working efficiently for the client.

Information can be collected in a case management workflow electronically and made available to the client. This is working towards direct access online for clients, providing information at any time, day or night.

However, the legal profession is voicing concern on some areas of the new electronic methods, in particular in respect of security.

For example, electronic signatures will need specific irrevocable client instructions before solicitors electronically sign documents on behalf of their clients. Questions are being asked as to:

* How secure is the electronic signature?

* What are the possibilities of the system being hacked?

* How confidential is the information on the system?

* Hilary Brown is an associate at North-East law firm, Ward Hadaway. She can be contacted on (0191) 204-4000 or visit
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2003
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