Artificial Intellegence – a conveyancer’s friend or foe

Technology's influence has been reshaping traditional practices for generations. Conveyancing is no different and conveyancers are now having to come to terms with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is transforming conveyancer’s day to day working lives. It is changing how conveyancers obtain search results, conduct due diligence, ensure security and navigate regulatory complexities. However, whilst the use of AI can be used as a force to enhance the industry’s effectiveness, there will always be those who see opportunities to fraudulently manipulate technology and AI is certainly no exception.


The conventional process of gathering search results has often been hindered by delays and cumbersome data retrieval. AI is changing this narrative by swiftly scanning and sorting through large volumes of data. AI expedites the extraction of pertinent information, providing conveyancers with a comprehensive overview in a fraction of the time it used to take. This acceleration not only reduces waiting times but also allows for prompt decision-making, a crucial element in the time-sensitive world of property transactions. AI's integration into the realm of conveyancing is not only accelerating the acquisition of search results but also reshaping our approach to information retrieval.

Due diligence, a crucial phase of any property transaction, has traditionally involved laborious manual searches through extensive volumes of data. AI has revolutionised this process by rapidly scanning large datasets to reveal any point of note associated with a property, its owners, and its prospective owners. By automating this data intensive task, AI accelerates due diligence timelines and reduces the risk of crucial information ever being missed. Conveyancers can now offer clients a more efficient and comprehensive due diligence process, enhancing trust and the speed of transactions.


Navigating the intricate network of regulatory compliance and legislative changes is a challenge faced by all legal professionals, and particularly for those working within the everchanging frameworks of property related regulations and legislation. AI allows conveyancers to constantly monitor amendments, to keep pace with changing regulations and legal requirements. Conveyancers can rely on AI to stay up to date with the latest guidelines and legislation, ensuring that every transaction adheres to the highest standards of legality as well as ethical practice. This insight provided by AI offers conveyancers a sense of assurance that their transactions remain compliant in a constantly changing regulatory landscape.


The incorporation of AI into conveyancing is not just about expediting processes; it's about improving the entire experience for both conveyancers and clients. AI's speed in gathering search results, its predictive abilities in risk assessment, its ability to streamline due diligence, and its ability to help ensure regulatory compliance are helping the industry toward a future marked by efficiency and accuracy. As AI continues to evolve and integrate seamlessly into conveyancing practices, the industry is in a position to offer an even higher standard of service and assurance to those navigating the intricate world of property transactions.


Like many industries at this point in time, the advantages AI provides conveyancers must be met with caution. Whilst AI has emerged as a powerful tool with the potential to revolutionise the field of conveyancing, it also brings forth its own set of threats that must be carefully considered.


One concerning aspect is the emergence of AI-powered fraud schemes. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, criminals will exploit it to create intricate and hard-to-detect fraudulent activities. AI-driven algorithms can generate fake documents, impersonate identities, and manipulate data, posing significant challenges to traditional fraud prevention methods.


The vulnerabilities in cybersecurity cannot be ignored. AI systems themselves can become targets of cyber attacks. If fraudsters manage to compromise AI algorithms or access crucial data, they can leverage the technology against the very systems meant to safeguard against fraud, potentially exposing sensitive client information.


Recently, fraudsters have been able to use public data leaks to use AI algorithms in order to comb through email accounts involved in leaks. The criminal’s algorithms will identify those accounts containing emails with key-words associated with property transactions. Once identified, the fraudsters will target said accounts, the accounts of property purchasers more often than not, with emails enticing purchasers to send funds to fake client accounts. Whilst clients may recognise that something is not quite right with the emails, the importance of personal relations is evident here. A client having full knowledge of their transaction, knowing that this may be a strange time to send funds, will prevent them from ever doing so.


Another critical consideration is the issue of human oversight. Although AI excels at processing vast amounts of data and recognising patterns quickly, it lacks the nuanced judgment and intuition inherent in an experienced conveyancer. Relying solely on AI systems for fraud prevention may lead to false positives, flagging legitimate transactions as fraudulent, or false negatives, overlooking genuine instances of fraud. AI algorithms learn from historical data, which can contain implicit biases. This can inadvertently lead to discriminatory practices, where certain individuals or properties may be unfairly targeted or excluded from transactions based on historical patterns.

Additionally, legal and ethical challenges come to light with the adoption of AI in fraud prevention. Determining accountability and liability for AI related fraud can be complex, raising questions about who bears responsibility when an AI system fails to prevent fraudulent activities is a fresh issue the industry does not have a definitive answer to.


To address these concerns, it is essential to strike a balance between implementing the advantages of AI and the significance of human involvement. Combining AI systems with human expertise and judgment can ultimately enhance the overall effectiveness of fraud prevention measures.


Looking to the future, there is of course a risk of overreliance on technology. The convenience and efficiency that AI brings might inadvertently lead professionals to become complacent in detecting potential fraud when they overly rely on AI systems to handle the task. Combining this with the use of AI by fraudsters themselves and there is certainly cause to be cautious of AI and its impact on the conveyancing process.

Legal work will always be an industry which requires a human touch. Clients rely on a conveyancers personal experience and person ability in the same way they rely on their skills in dealing with the law. Incorporating AI into the world of conveyancing has to be a conscious process which considers all advantages and disadvantages. As always, the client, their goals and their experience, will remain at the heart of all legal work. Conveyancing is no different.



How will new immigration rules affect international students and their families studying in the UK?

On 17th July 2023, the Home Office made some changes to immigration rules, the most significant of which is the restriction on overseas students bringing family members to the UK.


However, when the news was released in May, the Home Office announced the scheme expected to be implemented in January next year.


Unexpectedly, yesterday's Immigration Rules Update document announced without warning that the restriction on overseas students bringing family members had begun.

Today's post will focus on how this update to the immigration rules will affect overseas students.


Restrictions on student visa holders bringing family members to the UK.


The UK is home to several world-renowned institutions of higher education. Hence, so many international students from all over the world come to the UK every year to further their studies.


Students of all ages come to the UK for higher education, with many returning to study after starting a family.


To allow students to combine family life with study, the UK government has previously allowed holders of long-term student visas to bring their spouses and children to the UK.


Whilst student visa holders are subject to restrictions on working hours and other business activities, their spouses are free to work and do business in the UK whilst on a Dependant visa.


As a result, more and more people are using the combination of a student visa and a Dependant visa as a transition for the whole family to immigrate to the UK, which has led to the student visa being gradually abused and losing its original purpose.


This immigration rule update is also the result of the UK government's desire to stop the abuse of student visas and return them to their original purpose of serving academic research.


Overall, the Home Office has not applied a blanket rule on overseas students bringing family members with them. Instead, they have increased the requirements for overseas students who can bring family members with them, depending on the circumstances.

Currently (after 17th July) there are specific conditions for students to be able to bring their families to the UK:


- Government Scholarship students studying a programme of 6 months or more

- Full-time students studying a postgraduate or above programme (RQF level 7 or above) of 9 months or more.


Please note that the requirements will remain in effect until the end of this year, except for government scholarship students who will not be affected. Additionally, restrictions for students pursuing postgraduate or higher-level courses will be further strengthened starting from January 1, 2024.


Only the following two types of postgraduate or above courses commencing after 1/1/2024 will be allowed to bring dependants:


- PHD doctoral degree or other doctoral degree (RQF level 8)

- Research-based Higher Degree (RQF 8)


This update to the immigration rules is only for upcoming dependents of students, and applications for dependents of students submitted before 17 July will be reviewed under the previous rules.

Pathway requirements added for a student visa to other work/business visas.


Some new prerequisites for student visas to be converted to other work/business visas have been added to the Immigration Rules Update published on the 17th.


The work/business visas affected are:

- Skilled worker visas

- Visas within the Global Business Mobility Programme

- Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa

- Overseas Chief Representative Visa

- British Ancestor Visa

- Global Talent Visa

- High Potential Talent Visa

- Expansion Worker Scale-up Visa

- Innovation Founder Visa

- International Athlete Visa

- Various short-term work visas, etc.

There were no special requirements in the previous immigration rules for converting a student visa to another work/business visa.


If the student found a company with employer sponsorship qualification that is willing to sponsor him/her for the corresponding work visa or fulfilled the eligibility criteria for a particular business visa, then the student could convert to the corresponding visa at any time during his/her student visa.


However, with effect from yesterday (17 July), one of the following conditions must be met to be able to convert from a student visa to a work/business visa:


(a)The applicant must have completed the course of study for which the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned (or a course to which ST 27.3 of Appendix Student applies); or


(b) Condition B:

(i) The applicant must be studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above with a higher education provider which has a track record of compliance; and


(c) Condition C:

(i) The applicant must be studying a full-time course of study leading to the award of a PhD with higher education provider which has a track record of compliance.

(ii) The Certificate of Sponsorship in SW 1.2(d) must have a start date no earlier than 24 months after the start date of that course.''.


The requirements for Global Talent Visa, High Potential Talent Visa and Innovative Founder Visa are more stringent, and only applicants who fulfil point 1 or 3 of the above conditions can complete the conversion from student visa to these 3 types of visas.

These are the highlights of this immigration rule update on the overseas student community.


There is no restriction on international students to stay in the UK after graduation. If they cannot immediately convert from a student visa to a work or business visa, they can still obtain a two-year stay on a Graduate Visa and look for work opportunities in the UK.


These measures are to prevent the misuse of student visas, work, or business visas, and to regulate the influx of immigrants to the UK. Additionally, they aim to enhance the overall quality of immigration.


Students undertaking advanced academic education and research in the UK will still be able to enjoy the right to bring their dependants with them, and the threshold between student and work/business visas will go some way to improving the quality of professional or business immigration.

Under the current criteria, if you wish to save time by completing a seamless transition from a student visa to a work or business visa to achieve permanent residence, we recommend you start your immigration pathway planning as early as possible.


The professional immigration team at Chan Neill Solicitors can provide you with the most suitable immigration solution based on your background. If you require any assistance, kindly reach out to us.

Account Freezing Order

What is an account freezing order (AFO)?

An AFO is an order granted by the Magistrates Court to freeze a bank account in the UK. This order is usually applied for by an enforcement officer, such as the police, if they have suspicion that the monies on account are part proceeds of criminal activities or intended for illegal purpose. The most common event is a large sum of monies transferred into a bank account or multiple deposits of cash into a bank account in a short period of time.

A common case

In a common scenario, you will first notice that you suddenly have no access to your bank account via mobile banking or online banking, or your balance in your account becomes zero. When you call the bank they may tell you that they are unable to deal with this or provide any information.

Shortly after, you either receive an AFO from the police or a notice of application for AFO from the court.

The threshold for the initial AFO application is quite low and the court is likely to grant it for an initial period of time.

Period of AFO

Once the AFO is granted, it would be subject to a period of time for the police to undertake the investigation as well as for you to provide an explanation and all evidence. The period of an AFO varies depends on the complexity of the case. The most common AFO lasts 6 months. If 6 months is not enough for you to the provide evidence or for the police to conduct the investigation, it could be extended up to 2 years.

Variation of an AFO

In the case that all monies that you could utilise are frozen in that bank account or you would need them for some urgent matter, you are entitled to make an application to the court to vary the AFO. You will need to demonstrate your reasonable living expenses and / or the urgency of the matter. You can also make application to pay your legal expenses from the frozen money.


As mentioned above, during the investigation the police will ask you for an interview to answer questions they have or provide a written explanation of your funds. It is usually advisable to seek independent legal advice at this point before responding to the police. The main aspect is to give proper explanation for the funds in your bank account. For example, if some monies are your salary, you may need to provide your employment contract/pay slip or a confirmation from your employer if necessary to show that these monies are your rightful gain.

Possible results

If the police are satisfied with the clean source of funds, they will make another application to the court to set aside the initial AFO. Once the court approves that the police will inform the bank to unfreeze the account and release the monies to you.

It is also possible that, after the investigation, the police may decide to apply for the relevant amount or all of them to be forfeited, if they think those funds are the proceeds of crime. They will serve you a notice and you could raise an objection within a certain time period. If objected, you will need to make an application to set aside such forfeiture, the case will then proceed to the court for the judge to decide whether the forfeiture should be granted. You can seek legal advice for further details.

It is also open to you to apply to discharge the AFO if there are sufficient grounds

Seek legal advice

It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible once you receive an AFO. Chan Neill Solicitors can provide expert guidance on the procedure and the best approach for your case. By assessing the validity of the AFO and carefully reviewing the evidence and circumstance surrounding the case, we can offer a variety of tactics to ensure the most favourable outcome for your case.