Who IS your conveyancer?
Reporting recently in Today's Conveyancer a total of 721,089 completed Conveyancing transactions were carried out England and Wales during 2010. However, if this information is correct, then what is most shocking is the number of transactions completed by non-solicitors.
Two thoughts strike hard – do you know the quality of your conveyancer's legal training and do you really have an actual 'solicitor' acting for you after all?
Top of the transaction list are two major Licensed Conveyancer practices – both with heavy links to Estate Agents.
But why such high transaction numbers? Three reasons come to mind.
First, unlike Licensed Conveyancers, Solicitors are bound by strict professional rules of conduct which do not permit them to act for both sides in a Conveyancing transaction – because it is felt that acting for both sides leads to a conflict of interest, and therefore when a conveyancer acts for both sides, their 'impartial' advice may be suspect.
Second, and again, unlike Licensed Conveyancers, Solicitors have professional rules of transparency and impartiality which require them to reveal the existence of any referral fee paid by Solicitor to the Estate Agent in return for the latter directing their customers to them. This allows the client to agree or refuse that payment, and the client can therefore judge whether the choice of conveyancer is financially motivated, or whether in fact it is in the client's best interest. No such rules exist for Licensed Conveyancers.
Third, no major Estate Agency group is a part subsidiary/owned by a solicitor firm, and so solicitors have no temptation to ignore the best interests of the client and bring about an automatic bulk referral of home-moving customers to them.
So, if the above reasons were not as obvious as they are now, and if internet review forums on the larger conveyancing outfits are anything to go by, Solicitors may indeed be losing large numbers of potential conveyancing clients, but they need to affirm that professional rules for Solicitors still do exist to provide the protection their customers will still be looking for.