Diary of a High Street Conveyancer; 29th November 2021

There are those times when a client calls …

“Hello, you may not remember me but you acted when I bought my house four years ago. I wonder if you could just witness my signature on a document.”

Those words ‘just”… although actually the entire phrase ‘just witness my signature on a document’ leads to a sharp intake of breath, and an awareness that you are about to disappoint a client who has come back to you, probably because they were impressed by your service the first time around!

And that disappointment is going to be because you are going to tell the client that it may seem that you are only witnessing a document but it is going to be far more involved than that, in that you will have to open a file, check identity, check the nature of the document, whether the client understands what they are signing, whether you then need to send the signed document to a third party…

And what about the cost? To the client, it is ‘just’ signing a document. To us solicitors, it is something that could cause an issue in the future if we do not deal with it correctly, so there is potential future liability.

What does the client expect to pay? £20? And what do they say? Something along the lines of

“go on, I could just pop in for five minutes or I could just send it to you and then you could sign and then send back to me.”

The other similar question is when a member of the public calls to say that they need an ID1 signed for a Land Registry application.

Without having to set out the thoughts on that (and I am sure that we all share the same thoughts), my view is that it would probably be cheaper for that person to appoint a solicitor to act in the matter rather than have to go to the trouble of finding a solicitor who will put their name and signature to an ID1.

And I believe that this is why many firms will no longer sign ID1 forms.

It also forms part of a larger issue – that conveyancing is a specialist area and is not always going to be cheap and easy!


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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