Mishcon Handles UK’s 1st Blockchain Residential Property Deal

Innovative UK law firm, Mishcon de Reya, has been involved in what is described as the nation’s first ever ‘end-to-end digitised residential property transaction’ – which in effect was via a blockchain-based platform, and completed via working alongside the HM Land Registry’s Digital Street research and development group.

The firm told Artificial Lawyer that this was done using ‘permissioned’ Corda Smart Contract logic built by the Land Registry, with the other participants adding their own integrations around the core data flow, including Yoti for verification and Shieldpay for payment flow, and Mishcon built an integration with a conveyancing system.

This is clearly a big deal.

There has been plenty of talk about such blockchain uses, but this one is for real.

Also, the property market here is famously slow, manual, paper-based and often open to fraud due to the disconnected processes it involves. Hence, working fully through a digital process is quite a step for what is called in the UK ‘conveyancing’ of property.

Moreover, for fans of blockchain tech it’s a massive step forward, given that the UK is one of the most important property markets in the developed world. I.e. if people here think blockchain is a useful method for property sales, then it certainly has legs and is operating in a very demanding environment.

The firm said: ‘After months of testing, the blockchain prototype was used to show how buying and selling a house can be made simpler and quicker by demonstrating a digital transfer of ownership.’

‘The blockchain technology was developed through conversations with other stakeholders across the property market, with Barclays, SheildPay, and Yoti also involved in the testing.’ they added.

The property in question was a semi-detached house in Gillingham, Kent.

Stefan, the seller of the house in Gillingham who took part in the trial, commented: ‘It was really straightforward. It shows how technology like this can help make everything so much quicker and you can see clearly what’s happening at every stage. If this is the way forward, it’s going to make everything easier.’

While, Nick Kirby, Real Estate Technology Specialist at Mishcon de Reya, said: ‘We have been working collaboratively with HMLR for around 12 months to help drive strategic thinking around how property transactions could take place in the future and improving the experience for consumers.’

That we have now found and implemented a real use case for smart contracts and blockchain in this area takes us from thinking to action which is hugely exciting,‘ he added.

And, Nick West, Chief Strategy Officer at Mishcon de Reya, commented: ‘Technology, and especially blockchain, coupled with improved data management has a huge part to play in revolutionising this process. What’s exciting here is that this is a real world application of blockchain technology in our legal market. If we can turn this proof of concept into reality it will be of significant benefit to anyone buying or selling real estate assets in the UK.’

So – for the blockchain cynics…..stick that in your pipe and smoke it…..!