The quality of conveyancing in England and Wales ranges wildly. The best people to know this are Estate Agents who face conveyancers day in/day out, and of course, conveyancers themselves who deal with opposite law firms as part of their work. Every conveyancer has their own mental list of who they would never recommend to their friends and family, let alone to a client - and the reason they have a list is because those conveyancers lack quality.
A quality conveyancer should be able to demonstrate:
- Regular and prompt communication both with their own client, the other lawyers involved in the transaction and estate agents.
- Solutions to given situations. A buyer’s lawyer may raise enquiries of a selling lawyer but must also be open to working out a solution, even promoting one as part of the enquiry to keep the pace of the transaction moving forward – as the goal of a conveyancing chain of course, is to expertly and promptly exchange contracts.
- That they have sufficient legal knowledge in the very area that they are handling. Too frequently question marks arise over the quality of enquiries, the drafting of Contracts and the quality of paperwork produced – this can lead to being rejected, the transaction slowing down and out of depth conveyancers involved slowing things to a halt.
Choosing a conveyancer is difficult because there is so much choice and the public can be forgiven for thinking that they are much the same, like a tin of beans. This is a terrible mistake to assume. Conveyancing is a legal service as opposed to a good and as with any service (plumbing, electrical, building etc) the quality can vary. In conveyancing it varies wildly. Conveyancing is one - if not the - highest area for mistakes/claims in any area of law. The difference with conveyancing as a service is that it can be a choice between having your house move with errors, or without. The former being unacceptable but frequently encountered. This is why despite a property being registered at the Land Registry, and having changed hands multiple times, errors and defects can still be found years later. Suspect conveyancing having previously been carried out.
However, the issue of quality conveyancing cannot be properly addressed until one situation is eradicated: a huge volume of conveyancing can be directed by some estate agents to law firms who pay the estate agent despite their legal service being very mediocre. Whilst in itself, paying a cash-back (or more accurately a referral fee) is often a far more effective way of securing business than placing an advertisement in a newspaper, it can also be motivated by an acknowledgment that a legal business is mediocre and needs to buy work.
A popular method of making sure you have chosen a good conveyancer is by simply researching a particular conveyancers' website for accolades, client testimonials, external awards etc. Other methods include word of mouth, asking local surveyors, speaking to friends and family for recommendations.
From any conveyancing quote you receive, see how expert they sound or interested in promoting quality (as opposed to just being cheap). Do they offer a direct telephone and e-mail and does their website show their Team so that they are accountable if things ever went wrong (as opposed to being hidden away behind the badge of their law firm)?
Always seek out a conveyancer from a solicitor firm as opposed to a more generic legal “business”.