The Chain Matrix Conveyancing Network

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RESOURCES - Conveyancing:
Conveyancing chains can be a nightmare for property sellers and buyers. No matter how much any one link tries to do to bring the transaction to a conclusion any chain can only move as quickly as its slowest link. It is often the case that while parts of the chain are ready and eager to proceed, other parts are still at an early stage, or the chain may not even be complete. Inevitably people will occasionally become frustrated with the delays and withdraw, thus breaking the chain and setting everybody back by weeks or even months.
One of the main causes of people pulling out of chains is a lack of any clear information of the state of the chain at any given time and therefore the lack of any realistic timescale for exchange and completion. The longer the chain is, the more likely it is that problems will occur. This is where the “chain matrix” conveyancing network comes in.
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What is the Chain Matrix Conveyancing Network?

The chain matrix is a proposed internet based conveyancing network which will link together all of the transactions in any given conveyancing chain. It will be viewable by conveyancers, clients and estate agents. Conveyancers will be responsible for updating the network at various key stages of the conveyancing transaction as well as with notes regarding this such as delays, anticipated delays, proposed completion dates etc.

It may be possible for estate agents to add updates also though it is likely that clients themselves will have read only access. This new conveyancing network will be operated by the Land Registry as part of its drive toward e-conveyancing.

What are the Advantages of the Chain Matrix Conveyancing Network?

The main advantage of the chain matrix conveyancing network is that by keeping everyone in the chain informed and allowing them to communicate with one another chains will be at less risk of collapse for want of information or as a result of “Chinese whispers”. It should also save time when it comes to things like agreeing completion dates, currently a laborious task in a long chain. Imaging a chain of 10 properties. Number 1 proposes a completion date. This is then agreed by everyone up to number 10, who happens to be away from home on that day so he proposes an alternative, but number 3 cannot agree as he can't get removals so he proposes another date, which number 1 can't do and so on and so on. The chain matrix will include a “completion calendar”. Everyone enters the dates they can and cannot complete on the calendar and a date suitable to all can quickly be found.

Also, the occasional issues like trying to get several parties in a chain to share the cost of a reduction will be easier to resolve as everyone can discuss it at once.

What are the Disadvantages of the Chain Matrix Conveyancing Network?

The chain matrix conveyancing network is basically a positive move however it does have its problems. A solicitor still has a duty to his client not to disclose information that is or may be prejudicial to his client without express consent. Once the chain matrix is in place it will be more difficult to satisfy this duty without causing suspicion - if a solicitor is not updating the matrix the other parties in the chain will ant to know why. There may be problems for conveyancers where there is confusion about they are and are not authorised by their clients to disclose.

It is inevitable that conveyancers (some all of the time and all some of the time) will fail to update the chain matrix conveyancing network properly. This is likely to cause suspicion that there are problems even where there are none and will aggravate other parties to the chain.

One final problem is cost. As well as the cost to the Land Registry, which will presumably have to be passed on to the public in the form of increased fees, the cost to firms in integrating their existing IT systems to be used with the matrix is likely to be prohibitive for many, so that only the large firms can join the scheme. This likely to lead to a shift of work away from small firms and toward the larger ones at the instigation of estate agents and mortgage brokers, which would be a backward step for access to justice.

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