In March 2010, the Land Registry launched its third consultation on e-conveyancing. The consultation paper proposed changes to extend the use of electronically created charges and introduce the facility to use electronic transfers.
The results of this consultation have now been published. The report states that many stakeholders "are unconvinced that the time is right to offer e-transfers", and "have not yet been persuaded that e-transfers are desirable or achievable in a time of low property sales and increased risk of fraud".
It is currently possible to create an "e-charge" on a remortgage of the whole of a single property by a private individual. However, since the first e-charge was created in March 2009, only around 20 have been entered into.
The Land Registry states that it therefore plans to put the development of e-transfers on hold, until the return of a healthier financial climate and a more active property market. It is intending to concentrate instead on fully automating its system for the delivery of applications, so that customers can electronically submit documents which have been prepared in the traditional way.
This would speed up the Land Registry process by one day (the time it currently takes for a hard copy application to be submitted). Whether this limited benefit will offset any increase in the risk of fraud which results from Land Registry not seeing original documents remains to be seen.
The Land Registry also announced on 18 July 2011 that responsibility for Land Registry has moved from the Ministry of Justice to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). BIS is also responsible for the Met Office and Ordnance Survey. Hints of what is to come are given in Land Registry's statement that "this marks a significant step towards the establishment of a Public Data Corporation (PDC)". The announcement states that there will be a consultation on PDC data policy later this summer. Final decisions on membership, structure and commercial strategy of the PDC will then be taken later this year.