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Land Registry to trial Blockchain Technology during live test of Instant Property Transfers

In a recent advertisement searching for new board members, HM Land Registry has detailed plans for a live test of a “Digital Street” for near instantaneous property transfers and will be looking to blockchain as a possible solution.

The Digital Street will allow HM Land Registry to “hold more granular data than is possible at present”. Whilst the advertisement does not provide a definition of "granular data", it seems likely that this would include information from the central Local Land Charges register (due to be completed by Autumn of this year), as well as leverage the benefits of the Digital Mortgage service. Blockchain is one of the underlying technologies that will be tested.

According to the Housing White Paper published in February, the Government wishes to make HM Land Registry “the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity, and an open approach to data and will aim to achieve comprehensive land registration by 2030”.

The use of blockchain or other distributed ledger technology for property transactions would vastly improve the conveyancing process. To meet the Government's commitments, HM Land Registry will be required to “undertake the most substantial and far-reaching transformation in its 150-year history”.

Recent research conducted on behalf of Sweden’s land registry authority by the consultancy Kairos Future concluded that recording property transactions on a blockchain could save Swedish taxpayers over $100 million a year by doing away with paper contracts, reduce fraud and speed up the conveyancing process. Through HM Land Registry becoming “more digitised and customer-centric” and moving to a blockchain based registry, the UK Government may also be anticipating cost savings.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) notes that:

“The Digital Street, if successful, would be a world first and has great transformational potential not just for Land Registry but the property market itself.”

In order to ensure that the transformation programme succeeds, BEIS are seeking three non-executive board member to join HM Land Registry who have individual experience of Finance, Legal and Transformation/Digital issues.


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