Monday, May 27, 2024

Australia visit to promote legal and tech trade with UK | Today’s Conveyancer

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Justice Minister Mike Freer has taken a trip overseas in a bid to promote legal and tech trade deals between the UK and Australia. 

Freer led a delegation of UK professionals specialising in legal tech services to interact with Australian professionals in a series of workshops and networking events arranged by the Department for Business and Trade on May 13 and 14 under the UK Government’s GREAT Legal Services campaign. Last year, the conference resulted in trade deals worth millions and enabled lawtech firms from the UK to increase their market presence in Australia – which resulted in £88million worth of business exports.

The trip provided the opportunity for Australian legal tech firms to expand in the UK and in support of ‘regional firms to trade internationally’ prompting the use of a free-trade deal which came into force nearly a year ago.

Built around Sydney’s annual Legal Innovation and Tech Fest, this is the second year in a row a programme of events to facilitate legal knowledge sharing between the legal sectors of both countries will take place. Companies who attended last May reported business wins of £16.5 million.

Justice Minister, Mike Freer, said:

“I’m proud of our legal services’ world-leading reputation and that’s exactly why I’m visiting Australia as well as Singapore – so we can continue sharing our expertise with others and learn from them to maintain our competitive edge.

Importantly, promoting the UK’s legal and tech sectors abroad helps build connections and ultimately bring investment back to the UK – just as we’ve seen from the success of last year’s conference which resulted in millions of pounds worth of business deals.”

Avvoka, a legal tech firm who provide legal document automation, were part of the delegation. The firm have clients worldwide including in the US, Singapore and Australia. Their product, creating automated templates using software enables law firms to draw up contracts digitally, is an example of ‘lawtech innovation’. Australian professionals say they ‘want to learn how the UK government supports such innovation in the sector and whether initiatives such as LawTechUK could be replicated’.

The meeting will pay homage to the countries’ ‘long history together’ and the British Consul General speaks of a ‘new and exciting era in bilateral relations’.

British Consul General and Deputy Trade Commissioner Asia Pacific, Louise Cantillon said:

“I am delighted to welcome Minister Freer and these eight UK legal tech companies, who epitomise the evolution of legal tech in the UK and are eager to understand and engage with the Australian market.

Australia and the UK have a long legal history together, and we have entered a new and exciting era in our bilateral relations as we approach the anniversary of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement’s entry into force. The FTA has created new legal and professional services opportunities for both countries, and strengthened the exchange of talent, ideas, and innovation.”

A full programme of events is taking place from 9 to 17 May 2024 in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne. In Singapore, Minister Freer will be looking at the latest technology on probate, court transcripts, AI and discussing how to reduce the legal services regulatory barriers for British lawyers.

This is part of the government being able to secure unprecedented legal services market access commitments in four Free Trade Agreements which includes the EU, EEA-EFTA, Australia and New Zealand, covering £2 billion worth of UK legal services exports.

The property market could benefit from technology designed to streamline homebuying, which is typically fraught with issues in the UK – including delays, hidden costs and buyers dropping out of the process midway through. Australia has seen the benefits of implementing tech into the industry.

PEXA, which was launched in Australia in 2010, commends technology that makes the homebuying process more efficient after the first digitized house purchase took place in the UK in 2022. Australia was the first country to launch a digital process for synchronised lodgement and financial settlement for property. As the transaction fall through rate in the UK stands at 31 per cent, a digitised homebuying process could benefit conveyancers and buyers if the Australian experience is anything to go by. Re-mortgages can be completed in a day and buying a home doesn’t take weeks.

A decade ago, the main, if not only, technology used by law firms in Australia was a case management system. Today, firms leverage technology like PEXA’s to process over 85% of the country’s property transactions, worth an estimated AU$3Trillion.

PEXA claims: ‘Our Australian infrastructure has facilitated more than 16 million transactions, streamlining the process and improving consumer outcomes.

‘In the UK, the homebuying process has never been a simple one. Customers face unexpected costs, completion dates move, and it can feel like transactions disappear into a black hole. Digitising the process and providing real time access to property data can help customers save a considerable amount of money and time.’

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