A new digital platform will be launched throughout Scotland in spring this year, designed to speed up the conveyancing process. This online system, Altis, has been developed by ESPC and BDP Estate Agency Software as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for property solicitors.
As we move towards a world where a digital presence is all important, an electronic conveyancing system serves the need to create efficiencies and mitigate risk. It aims to quicken the Scottish conveyancing process as well as to provide a secure and transparent environment to store all the information relating to clients and their properties.
Paul Hilton, ESPC chief executive, says: “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the Law Society of Scotland in developing an online conveyancing platform which could potentially change the landscape of the Scottish conveyancing process. To have the backing of the Law Society really adds gravitas to what is a comprehensive and highly-developed system.
“Altis is different to other e-conveyancing platforms. We’re very aware of what recently happened regarding Veyo, however, while there is a risk to any new venture, Veyo was starting from nothing and required significant development and investment to break into what was, for them, a new market. Altis is far more advanced in its development. We have a track record of delivering products and services to the legal profession and have recently carried out successful testing with a large number of solicitors around Scotland, to which the feedback has been fantastic. Right from the start, Scottish conveyancers have been involved in the creation of Altis and we believe it is a service that solicitors want.”
While ESPC has 45 years of history in supporting solicitors in Scotland, BDP Estate Agency Software, owned by Michael Barcroft, has the technology available to develop a unique e-conveyancing system. Michael had been asked to develop new conveyancing features as part of his existing software, but felt it would be more beneficial to users to develop e-conveyancing as a separate platform.
“ESPC and BDP already had a close working relationship through the estate agency software’s providing property details to ESPC and felt that together, we would make the perfect partnership”, says Paul. “The most challenging aspect was having a full understanding of the complicated conveyancing process. We couldn’t have built the platform without the help of willing solicitors who were happy to share their thoughts and processes with us. At the same time, we understand that all solicitors work in a different way so we had to ensure that the platform was flexible enough to allow everyone to work the way they want to, whilst still guiding them through the process to ensure that key information is not overlooked.”
In 2015 live testing of the online system was carried out, in tandem with the offline process, and following positive feedback, further development on the system took place.
“The feedback so far from solicitors testing the platform, along with input from other key stakeholders including Registers of Scotland and the Council of Mortgage Lenders has been excellent and we look forward to working with them all going forward,” says Paul.
Altis has been designed to sit at the centre of the conveyancing process, so that it can save valuable time by connecting to existing software, search providers, Registers of Scotland and Revenue Scotland. “The system we have created offers an unrivalled level of capability,” says Paul. “Not only has it been carefully designed to be user friendly, it has the ability to greatly improve risk management, assuring all parties a secure and supported experience.”
Jaime Hill, Head of Business Development at Altis, believes that the future is for all conveyancing to be carried out electronically. “Recent legislation allowing solicitors to use electronic signatures on documents alongside the rollout of the Law Society’s digital Smartcard, which all solicitors will have in the next few months, means there is an opportunity to develop an online service which will help to speed up the conveyancing processes as well as providing an accurate and fully accountable system, benefitting both solicitors and their clients. This is not de-skilling conveyancing, it is our hope with firms using Altis’s high level of automation, it will leave them time to work in the areas clients value most the personal touch- e.g. advice on submission of others and updating them on the process of the sale and purchase.
As Altis is a cloud based platform, the system can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection which will allow greater flexibility on where you can work, but it also allows different staff members to work on the same case. One of the great features of Altis is that because it can integrate with your existing systems, it alleviates the need for double keying information.
Altis will also come with a client log-in which will allow buyers and sellers access to key information relating to their property transaction, helping to keep them updated. This can be branded to look like your firm’s website and is a great opportunity to promote other services that your firm offers to your clients.
It’s also a platform that has no upfront subscription costs, rather a simple fee per transaction. “We were keen that the platform was accessible to all solicitors in Scotland, so no matter if you are the biggest or the smaller solicitor firm in Scotland, you will be charged the same fee,” says Paul. “Altis will only work if it makes conveyancers lives easier. It will save time by reducing the amount of double keying, and will integrate with other platforms to allow you to send information at the click of a button.”
Paul adds: “We are delighted with the positive response from our members who are keen to be involved with the final development stages and to go on to use the system as part of their daily business process.
“Our commitment to improving the efficiency of the conveyancing process extends beyond our ESPC membership and we look forward to working with the SPCs and conveyancers across Scotland to allow them to benefit from this intuitive online system.”