Lenders will soon be represented by a new organisation that is set to replace the six bodies currently representing the financial sector.
The new body is to be called ‘UK Finance’ and has the stated aim of ‘representing UK finance and banking’. It replaces the Asset Based Finance Association, British Bankers’ Association, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.
UK Finance is to be launched in the summer, with the appointment of new chief executive Stephen Jones being overseen by investor and entrepreneur Bob Wigley. Jones is currently chairman of Capital Home Loans and a senior adviser to Cerberus Capital Management.
Commenting at the time of his appointment in late April, Jones said: “We will service our members by helping them to build a more customer-focused and innovative finance and banking sector for the benefit of the UK economy as a whole.”
Meanwhile, responses to a new Land Registry consultation also closed at the end of April. The consultation included proposals to replace paper deeds with electronic documents and allow the conveyancing process to take place electronically.
The proposals to amend the Land Registration Rules 2003 would bring them into line with Land Registry’s digital strategy, whilst also making it simpler and quicker for users to interact with the organisation.
Specific recommendations in the document include a scheme to allow for the introduction of fully digital conveyancing documents, with e-signatures being used for land transactions and land registration. This would also revoke existing rules allowing only limited digital mortgages.
The paper also includes a proposal to “allow for more flexibility as to when Land Registry is open for business and open to the public”, noting that increasing use of electronic working methods mean that the body “could be open for business for longer periods than working days as defined in the Rules”. It also seeks to differentiate a “business day” from a “working day”, noting that: “There is no longer a correlation between business days, working days and when Land Registry is open for public visits.”
Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar, Graham Farrant said: “Land Registry has embarked on a digital transformation programme to deliver products and services through channels that meet our customers’ changing needs. We want to be flexible and responsive, continuously improving our processes while always ensuring the security and integrity of the Land Register.”
The consultation paper notes that: “This is not a radical review of the Rules. That would not be appropriate while the Law Commission is reviewing the Land Registration Act 2002.”
The government announced that it would be putting its privatisation plans for Land Registry on hold at the end last year.
Meanwhile, a new single digital register of local land charges is also being built. The records are currently held in a number of formats by local authorities themselves. The new register would allow Land Registry to hold all information centrally. It remains to be seen how this move will contribute to the organisation’s drive for greater efficiency.
Changes invariably create new transactional risk. In this context, niche products such as title insurance play a critical role in enabling consolidation and innovation.