Undertakings, Advice and Information – Key Recent Developments in Residential Conveyancing

There have been two recent cases which generate issues going to the heart of the conveyancing process. The first issue relates to the giving of undertakings. The case of  Harcus Sinclair LLP v Your Lawyers Ltd [23.07.21] raises the important practical point of from whom an undertaking can be received.

The case throws into focus a number of other issues which are of significance to conveyancers. Those issues revolve around the status of the firm and fee earner giving the undertaking. Where an undertaking cannot be complied with there are potential problems for the firm accepting the undertaking. It is probably a good opportunity to review your firms policies in connection with undertakings and to consider relevant case law and best practice.

In short firms must consider –

  1. The need for an undertaking
  2. The wording of the undertaken to ensure it fulfils its purpose.
  3. The purpose of the undertaking and the risks associated with non-compliance.
  4. The status of the firm providing the undertaking
  5. The qualification and status of the fee earner of the firm
  6. Alternatives to undertakings in order to protect the client

Due to demand Todays Conveyancer and IQ Legal Training have asked me to deliver a 60 minute webinar exploring recent case law, previous case law which will take place on the 17th August at 11am .  The webinar will also allow an opportunity to look at another recent case.

From the procedural problems created by the use of undertakings I would like to explore the purpose of a report on title in conveyancing transactions. Using the case of  Manchester Building Society v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2021] UKSC 20 reminds us of the complexities revolving around the provision of information as opposed to the giving of advice. Although this case addresses issues of causation in the context of professional negligence it enables us to review the distinction between the generation of information and the provision of advice.

Extensive notes will be provided and there will be an opportunity for delegate questions.

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Ian Quayle is CEO at IQ Legal Training

Today's Conveyancer