On 12th December 2018 the Law Gazette released an article labelled ‘Robot auctioneer sells first UK property in binding transaction’ showing how a property in Britain was the first to be sold by an automated auctioneer. The property was valued at £400,000 but was later sold at auction for £475,000. The whole auction was handled by an artificial intelligence system called ‘gAbi’ using a secure system known as blockchain. The question then arises of how much of an impact or statement this makes to the world of conveyancing.
This latest development in online conveyancing is another strong indication that conveyancing is becoming more e-commerce with the help of automated intelligence. Conveyancing services are one of the highest legal services performed through email and online services at just over 50%. Therefore, it is no surprise that the government wants to increase the home buying procedure by utilising e-conveyancing. With this being said, the online platform would not be able to operate or exist without the security of blockchain.
Blockchain is key to e-conveyancing; quite simply it is a secure online bank of information and transactions that is tamper proof. Blockchain has been used to develop Clicktopurchase to complete online transactions of conveyancing by using ‘encryption technology to record the Bidder verification process.’ ‘Since all events are now recorded in the Blockchain ledger, absolute proof of actions are recorded in a tamper-proof manner.’ Neil Singer, CEO of Clicktopurchase has stated that blockchain is a ‘game changer’. This is becoming evidential in the conveyancing industry as blockchain can be used to validate the registration of land titles and mortgages. The significance of this is that the land registry is looking into using blockchain to help develop the efficiency and innovative digital economy.
This isn’t the first significant introduction of blockchain in conveyancing. In 2017, a Swansea dentist was the first property to exchange contracts digitally in commercial conveyancing, which has been suggested could display the potential to remove solicitors as there was no need for solicitors in this exchange. Blockchain has also been utilised to the point where a property has gone from being on the market to verifying exchange within 1 week, making it clear that blockchain can revolutionise the property industry. With many online estate agents now in the market, such as Purple Bricks, the increase in online property services is seeing it become the more preferred choice of service and with the introduction of blockchain services it can speed up the efficiency and workload on solicitors allowing more time for client care.
There are some ethical concerns raised around the use of blockchain, one being with the whole transaction completed online by an automated system there is a lack of human supervision which could result in more errors and problems in the process being unnoticed. However, understanding this point the article released by the Law Gazette states that ‘artificial intelligence is not 100% accurate it has never proven any less accurate than worked carried out by humans’. While also stating that it has been shown that ‘a test that took lawyers 92 minutes took an artificial intelligence system only 26 seconds.’
The subjective conclusion of this transaction is that conveyancing services are becoming ever so more online and this has been seen as a success in commercial property, which is now resulting in it being introduced into the residential conveyancing industry and being a trusted resource in security and efficiency to create e-conveyancing. Displaying that online services in conveyancing demonstrate no sign of slowing down and Solicitors should encourage any service which may help efficiency and speed.