The frustrations and chuckles for conveyancing solicitors

31 Mar 2014

The standard of legal conveyancing ranges hugely in the market place, and choosing a quality conveyancer is therefore a very difficult task.

Vast numbers of people across the country are unwittingly herded to certain conveyancing businesses, who, in the eyes of many conveyancers, offer a very poor service, rarely if ever an actual solicitor acting for you, and so frequently with hidden charges, and almost invariably a slow service leading to complaints and often abortive deals.

Why are they herded? Because big money changes hands. So next time when your estate agent says they will organise your conveyancing, you may well be on the way to one of these conveyancers.

Test it. If you are recommended to a conveyancer, Google their name with the word 'review' at the end. Judge for yourself. It is your money, and your house move.

Sadly, a by-product of inferior conveyancing is a top 20 list of their actions which cause more efficient conveyancers to either shake their heads in desperation, or cause an element of humour, when faced with one or more of their typical actions. Here are some examples:

  1. Suggesting that conditional planning consents will not be supplied/are not relevant after a mythical period of time, often 10 years.
  2. Still asking for an Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) despite a central register where you can search by address:
  3. Buyers' solicitors asking a sellers' solicitor to fund legal indemnity insurance after receiving general a postcode chancel 'we cannot say one way or the other if the property is in a parish where it might have to contribute to chancel repairs' search result.
  4. The selling lawyers failing to even read the sale questionnaires their own clients have filled in and blindly sending them out to the buyer's solicitors.
  5. Delaying a transaction over production of a piece of paper (a FENSA certificate) which is clearly shown on the FENSA website.
  6. Failing to appreciate that an NHBC Guarantee can often double as a building control sign-off certificate.
  7. The junior conveyancer (or one who has been sued several times) raising rafts of enquiries, many repeating those already replied to in the seller's own completed sale questionnaires.
  8. Asking for legal indemnity insurance if a FENSA certificate or boiler installation certificate is not available (i.e. totally missing the point that insurance does not address the health and safety issue).
  9. Replying to a request for restrictive covenant consent or recent planning consents with “our clients do not have copies”.
  10. Selling conveyancers overlooking to approach the Landlord at the very start of a leasehold sale with a management information questionnaire, and losing weeks until the buyers' lawyer has to chase them.
  11. Failing to send to the buyer’s lawyer the documents referred to in registered title that also have to be produced and read alongside.
  12. Not using a colour photocopier, but using a red pen/crayons to replicate the colours – yes, that still goes on.
  13. Buyers' conveyancers who fail to arrange mortgage funds to arrive the previous working day so as to avoid delay on the morning of completion.
  14. Breaching their own duty to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme by having their own sale contract running into pages of gibberish extra legal clauses, or raising enquiries about the state and condition of the property being sold. Two things they must not do if the law firm is CQS accredited.
  15. Delaying an exchange of contracts when selling because they overlooked having their clients sign the contract – virtually the only real main task they have to do, while the buyers’ lawyer had to do all the important investigative work.
  16. Delaying an exchange of contracts because the selling lawyer failed to obtain a repayment amount on their client’s mortgage at the very start.
  17. Providing more than 6 months old proof of registered title, and arguing why they will not spend another £6 to update it….running the risk that they have to remove new entries discovered by the buyer after exchange but before completion.
  18. Carrying out personal (third party) conveyancing searches rather than 'official’ (by the very organisation being searched), without first obtaining their client's authority.
  19. Charging extra legal fees for such things as:
  • Every individual legal question raised of a selling lawyer on their legal papers – yes it’s true, some do.
  • Where the property is unregistered land.

  20.  Not having either an email address or direct telephone number on their letters to aide contact with them.

The better and dynamic conveyancers will not adopt the above, as they place your welfare beyond anything else. So choose wisely.