On Tuesday I attended a conference in Edinburgh. The conference brought together all the main players from the public and private sectors to discuss the benefits of a fully digitised, one stop Land and Property Information Database (LAPID). My acronym, not theirs.
To say it was well attended, would be an understatement. Panelists and delegates included John Swinney MSP, Deputy first Minister, Sheenagh Adams, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and representatives from Ordnance Survey, The Law Society of Scotland, the CML, The Scottish Parliament and many others.
In addition to LAPID the Scottish Government has asked the Registers of Scotland to register all of Scotland's land within 10 years.
Like the UK, purchasers, lenders, conveyancers and others have to search a wide range of databases and other sources to assemble a full assessment of the background of a particular property. The result is that many purchasers do not find out what may be about to happen in or to an adjoining property which may have an adverse effect on the property about to be purchased.
There is now an excellent opportunity for Scotland to coordinate these efforts and collaborate with the private sector, lenders and other professional organisations involved in the home buying and selling process. That contribution is currently being gathered in the form of Unifi Scotland, a think tank whose members meet to consider ways in which the present system can be improved.
Some worthwhile research has been done and lessons have been learned from Norway. Norway is ranked 5th in the world Registering Property' index. The UK is ranked 68th!
Most of Norway's municipalities have transferred information that they hold on properties to Infoland, where it has been digitised and made available to the public, lenders and other interested parties. A basket of searches, required for house purchase transactions can be purchased from Infoland rather than in a number of different purchases.
Is this the right way to go, a one stop' property shop, or has The Law Society of England and Wales got it right by building their new conveyancing portal, Veyo, due to be launched next month
In Scotland they seem to want to improve the existing process, which may then make way for E-conveyancing. In England and Wales they want to keep the existing process but build a system/portal that makes that process more transparent. What is the correct way to proceed
I'm off to pack my lederhosen. I feel a trip to Norway coming on!
*Rob Hailstone is founder of the Bold Legal Group