Conveyancing Association responds to digital identity consultation

The Conveyancing Association (CA) has outlined issues around ID checks in the home buying process in its response to the government’s consultation on digital identity.

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has been asking for responses on how the government “can support the development and secure use of digital identities… for the UK’s growing digital economy”.

In its submission, the CA pointed out the importance of ID checks in the home buying and selling process. But the trade body for the conveyancing industry also expressed concern about the number of checks consumers currently have to go through, the different ways that ID is required, the costs involved, and whether the current paper-based system that many practitioners currently use is the best way to combat fraudulent activity against the industry.

The CA said it was supportive of the production of a government-led digital identity which can be accessed by stakeholders and provide “one source of truth” to be relied upon. It added that its objective was to ensure that the digital standards set by any government ID programme were in keeping with the needs of the conveyancing market and consumers, and wanted to ensure there was a move away from a reliance on documentation which is susceptible to fraud.

The response highlighted how important it is that any digital ID can be linked to a property, so that conveyancing firms can be confident that the individual they are dealing with is the registered proprietor of that property.

One of the proposals outlined in the government’s consultation was that it might utilise the data it currently holds for individuals’ passports, with the idea that it could then open this up to be accessed and used as an ID verification tool. The CA noted that it would like to see the use of biometric data in any plan to deliver a government-led digital identity scheme.

“Improving ID verification has been a key workstream for the CA for a number of years, and we have strongly advocated a centralised government system which allows us to access its data and provides far greater confidence in the individuals who present themselves to us and who we are to represent,” explained the CA’s director of delivery Beth Rudolf.

“As conveyancers, our members see this as the last blockage in the system in terms of validating the clients we deal with, and ensuring they are who they say they are and they are the owners of the properties we are dealing with. This is an opportunity to drive proof of ID in the UK away from a paper-based system to one that has a central government source, is accessible to trusted sources, and has the ability to give us complete confidence in the individual.”

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