In recent weeks we've been hearing a lot of complaints about the shambolic, chaotic and pretty much pointless e-conveyancing strategy being pursued by government agencies – notably HM Revenue & Customs and the HM Land Registry. Over the next few weeks we'll be listing them however let's start by drawing your attention to a new report by Sir Bryan Carsberg, a former director-general of fair trading. The report was commissioned by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents and looks at the impact of HIPs (Home Inspection Packs) over the 12 months since they were introduced.

Carsberg's conclusion is that the contents of HIPs had been reduced to very little, despite their cost of on average £350, and that they should no longer be compulsory. Here are some quotes from his report:

“I understand that, to date, few buyers have shown an interest in the HIP, and a substantial number of conveyancers ignore its existence and recommission searches on receiving instructions from their buyer client, suggesting a lack of confidence in the limited content.

“This evidence alone indicates that the cost of HIPs is likely to exceed their benefits. Some would summarise the position by saying that the HIP provides the worst of all worlds – it omits much of the most useful information but still imposes significant costs on the property transaction.

“Even if HIPs were to become more comprehensive, there appears to be a strong likelihood that delays between the preparation of the pack and exchange of contracts would mean that much of the information would have become out of date by the time it was used.

“However I believe that the objection to HIPs is even more fundamental. I believe that consumer well-being, in matters like property transactions, is best secured by operation of the market.”

The Department for Communities & Local Government has said there are no plans to scrap HIPs. (They are presumably going to leave that to the next Conservative government.)

If you have an e-conveyancing-related horror story, just email it in to econ@legaltechnology.com