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Conveyancing should be done like this: Conveyancing Solicitors are you listening?

View profile for Paul Hajek
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The Law Society’s consultation on the role of Conveyancing Solicitors in the home buying and selling process in England and Wales is set to close in one month’s time on 18th September.

You can have your say on how the Conveyancing process may be improved and we would be pleased to pass on your comments.

• One of the improvements suggested by the Law Society is an update of the forms which Sellers routinely complete prior to the sale of their home, the so called TransAction forms. The TransAction protocol was introduced in 1990 and has been updated over the years.

A new protocol to be known as TransAction Plus will take into account the introduction of HIPs and the advances in eConveyancing. The improvements are designed to give better information to Buyers and to streamline the Conveyancing process amongst Conveyancing solicitors, who would need to sign up to a new membership scheme.

• Another matter being explored is a possible move away from the concept of Caveat Emptor or let the buyer beware. This was perhaps what the Government had in mind with the so called Home Condition Report, which was to be a cornerstone of the Home Information Pack.

The Home Condition Report or Sellers’ Survey as it was also known was to be made available to a potential buyer before a property could be sold, and would be a component part of the HIP. However, due in part to the difficulties with the concept of caveat emptor, the Government postponed the introduction of the Home Condition Report when HIPs were introduced in August 2007.

• The Land Registry floated the idea of aChain Matrix i.e. a flowchart for buyers and sellers in a chain of Conveyancing transactions over 10 years ago. This again was shelved recently in part to perhaps an over complexity in execution of the Chain Matrix.

However, the concept of more transparency is a commendable one and reintroducing a “Chain Matrix lite” where limited information would be available to the Conveyancing Solicitors in the Conveyancing chain would be worth exploring again.

• The regulation of Estate Agents is also up for discussion. Would the stricter regulation of Solicitors be a benefit to consumers if Estate Agents had to abide by similar rules, with more powerful forms of redress for complaints?

• Not many people realise that Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers have different rules governing their professions.

For example, Licensed Conveyancers have no obligation to inform their clients of a referral fee, and can also act for both parties in a transaction. Solicitors can act for both sides only in very restricted circumstances. Strict rules govern solicitors in the payment of referral fees. Should the playing field between the two be level?

These are all challenging questions and will have a bearing on how the housing market and the Conveyancing process are structured for years to come.

Please feel free to contact me Paul Hajek at paul(at)cluttoncox.co.uk to air your views. 

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