Anyone familiar with financial institutions will know that the introduction of “Straight Through Processing” (STP) revolutionised their business by reducing risk. It was a simple solution to a complex issue which imposed the discipline of ensuring data throughout a transaction did not change from start to finish. So what has this got to do with conveyancing?
The data problem
Conveyancing today has an appalling reputation for being highly inefficient. This is due primarily to the lack of attention that law firms pay to how they capture and use data. Even where companies do use case management systems; property information, addresses and client details are re-keyed numerous times. Where there is re-keying, there are mistakes.
Starting off on the right foot
Collecting basic information such as addresses of mortgage lenders, lawyers and management companies is time-consuming but only needs to be done once. Any half-baked case management system will support this but it needs to be mandated company-wide and should be completed before a case gets anywhere near a lawyer.
Specific case information
As each case is different, there will always be an element of manual data entry but errors are reduced by validating this information against other sources. Even simple solutions such as postcode lookup use third party data which eliminates keying and errors. Optical character recognition (OCR) can be used on memorandums of sale which enables client, agent and lawyer details to be checked and changes made immediately and automatically. Data such as owner name, property address and mortgage lender information can be extracted directly from Land Registry and validated against what has been provided by clients and agents.
Finally, by using OCR on searches, leases and management packs, the data needed for raising or responding to enquiries, reporting to clients and submitting Stamp Duty Land Tax and registration can be automatically extracted.
Reduced GDPR Risk
Not only does holding a single set of data improve efficiency, it also addresses the challenges that companies face with data compliance. Having a single set of data that has been checked against external sources significantly reduces the risk of disclosing sensitive information to the wrong person breaching GDPR guidelines.
By investing time and effort in capturing and validating data from trusted sources and storing it centrally, law firms can significantly improve their efficiency. This will also reduce delays and make a successful outcome of a case more likely.