New Looming Obligations On Conveyancers

You never go to a conveyancing conference expecting flowers, blue birds chirping and the sweet sense of relaxation and ease waiving over you. The Law Society Property Section Conference today has certainly played to form.  

About 200 conveyancers listened to this mornings session as reminders were given about all the new obligations that are coming, new things to worry about, and more policies to write.

Residential property lawyers have a lot of things to think about and prepare for over the next few months.

Simon Davis, The Law Society President stood up and told us that the role of the Law Society was to:

“add value to you so that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel by giving guidance.”

Citing the VAT on disbursements issue he said:

“The Law Society had led by helping the profession understand the issues.”

The first session by Lord Best referred to managing of property agents and his report of July 2019.  Lord Best made it clear that regulation of estate agents, letting agents but not developers who market their own properties is coming.

Solicitors will be exempt unless they also act as property agents.  Unsurprisingly at a Law Society event no mention was made to conveyancers regulated elsewhere.

On the face of it, regulation of estate agents might help the home moving process if they have to be transparent, honest and have integrity.   There is however a massive caveat and impact on conveyancers.

The report recommends that we report property agents when they breach their own rules and regulations.  It wasn’t clear what the threshold for this was but Lord Best indicated that as conveyancers already have an obligation to make suspicious activity reports (SAR) for anti-money laundering (AML) purposes this was just an extension of that.

The second session focused on the new regulatory framework that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is bringing in on the 25th November 2019. 

A review of the regulatory framework will see the Handbook replaced with new standards and regulation that ultimately mean a reduction in the page count.  The reduction in volume removes a lot of the specific detail.  Conveyancers need to think about acting on both sides as these rules have now gone, specific regulation of individuals and whether you are going to accept undertakings from freelancers.  There is a lot in there.

There was also a reminder that the majority of firms are still not complying with the transparency rules and a large proportion that have tried have done it in a non compliant way.  The focus seemed to be less on price and more on service qualities and reporting to client requirements.

Oh and don’t forget you need the new SRA digital logo on your website in the next few weeks or you’ll find another way that you aren’t compliant.

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