It’s Getting Rough At The Guildford Frontline

The following article first appeared on Peter Ambrose’s Linked In account and has been kindly shared with Today’s Conveyancer


So we learned yesterday that there is such a thing as good news.

After deleting the BBC news app from my phone and browser I had been living a news-free existence for the last couple of months.

Which was actually quite liberating because they’re not exactly lighting up the skies with constructive positivity right now.

So when the property industry’s best new best mate, housing minister, Robert Jenrick, put his neck on the line and said, “what the heck, let’s go sell some houses” it really was time to break open the celebratory Peroni.

And reinstall the BBC app.

And things really did get better this morning when I got an email before 9.00am from a client wanting to go ahead with a stalled transaction.

The Surrey sun really was shining that little bit brighter.

Lawyers behaving very badly indeed

So what have the lawyers been up to during these strange times?

Well – not exactly covering themselves in glory, that’s for sure. This was their chance to show that when there’s a gun held to their head, they can adapt with the best of them.

Only they haven’t.

I asked the legal team today about what they were finding and the feedback ranged from the extraordinary to the blindingly farcical.

One large firm in Kent told us “we are not exchanging on any cases”. Another sent a PDF explaining how they were not entering any clients into new contracts. Some even went to the trouble to waste weeks of our time renegotiating the standard clauses drafted by the Law Society.

But it was the logistical challenges where they really excelled.

Like the firm who kept furloughing each lawyer that took over a case; three in one month who then each raised their own new enquiries. Or the one who refused to go into the office to retrieve original signed documents. Probably the best was the chap who refused to exchange contract unless his clients came into the office at the same time as our exchange phone call.

So much for lecturing lawyers piously adhering to government guidelines.

Nothing stops the post

I think it was Churchill who said that a war is difficult to fight without a common enemy.

Luckily, I have found that enemy.

It is the law firm owners who insist their people send us post, every piece of which we have to scan and upload.

Because just when I thought that lawyers couldn’t get more irritating when it came to their use of it, someone goes and surpasses themselves.

I thought they were content to send letters like one yesterday with a single paragraph to confirm that we had completed. Or the one last week who wrote to tell us that they were instructed.

But no – the best one was the individual who decided to print out our contract documents that he had downloaded from our portal, and send them back to us because the case had gone abortive when their clients pulled out.

Obviously they went straight in the shredder.

I took the decision today that the only way to stop this nonsense is to lead from the front. My plan is that in the future we will not accept any correspondence by post and will just return such ridiculous letters back to their ridiculous senders.

Once these people start getting their own post back, then maybe they will start taking notice.

It’s the little things

There were a couple of occasions last week that surprise you and reinstates your faith that things really will get better.

Like when I reinstalled a couple of computer monitors no longer needed by one of our lawyers back to the desk they came from. It’s amazing what a sense of normality just putting a monitor back in its place can bring.

However, the highlight of the week was definitely a telephone call out the blue from the owner of an estate agent. We’d exchanged a bunch of deals for his clients and he just wanted to call me to thank us for the work that we had been doing.

The sentiment behind that call made the efforts of our new superhero Robert Jenrick feel just a little bit ordinary.

Today's Conveyancer