Task force formed to lead conveyancing reform

A number of leading organisations in the conveyancing profession have agreed to work together as the Conveyancing Task Force to discuss, and where possible agree, on reform and enhancement of the conveyancing process for the benefit of consumers and lawyers alike.

The formation of the Conveyancing Task Force which comprises the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Conveyancing Association, CILEx and the Bold Legal Group has taken nearly two years and formal terms of reference for the group have been agreed which provide the basis for working constructively together.

As an example of the value the Conveyancing Task Force can deliver, all members of the group have recently released three documents to their members relating to the current extraordinary circumstances of the COVID pandemic and the impending expiry of the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday at the end of March.

These documents provide clarity and a consistent approach for conveyancers and their clients in these very unusual times, and specifically deal with circumstances where house sales don’t complete in time to benefit from the SDLT holiday.

“The combination of the stamp duty land tax holiday and working from home has put conveyancing and those who practise it under enormous strain and we do not know what will happen in the market once the concession ends on 31 March,” said Law Society of England and Wales president David Greene.

“We do know that the pandemic and the need for social distancing has accelerated the appetite for using digital solutions in parts of the transaction process, particularly for ID and execution and electronic and/or digital signing.

“Institutional members of what is now the Conveyancing Task Force have been working informally together for some time where there are areas of shared interest to help consumers and practitioners both in the pandemic and for the future.

“The new arrangements for the Task Force will help formalise joint working to enable co-operation to take place effectively without compromising the independence of each organisation.

“Chains of transactions mean that it is obviously helpful for all parties to be working in a similar fashion as we move forward into the digital future.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively with other members of the Task Force and inputting our views to the Home Buying and Selling Group.”

Notes to editors

Terms of reference, which form the operating structure for initiatives and workstreams, have been agreed between Conveyancing Task Force members:

  • the Law Society
  • the Society of Licensed Conveyancers
  • the Conveyancing Association
  • the Bold Legal Group

Whilst working together to formulate and agree proposals, procedures and due diligence under agreed terms of reference, Task Force members still remain independent and accountable to their respective organisations.

The Task Force will be working with regulators and industry stakeholders, such as the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), to champion best practice and consumer friendly conveyancing.

The Task Force have agreed a set of conveyancing workstreams which will be the focus to define the future digital conveyancing blueprint. The workstreams include, but are not limited to, the following key aspects of the conveyancing process:

  • proof of identity
  • universal protocols
  • buyers and sellers property information forms
  • codes of practice
  • electronic signatures
  • lenders handbook requirement and review
  • property log books
  • fraud prevention protocols
  • property search review
  • vendor disclosure
  • client communication enhancements and guidance

Additional information will be available on a new Conveyancing Task Force website, due to be launched in the spring.

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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