New property fraud advice released by HMLR & The Law Society

The Law Society and HM Land Registry aim to help solicitors identify and protect against the evolving risk of fraud through new jointly developed advice.

Supplementing a number of standing resources, practice notes and training, the advice published by the organisations focusses on property and registration fraud risks, aiming to safeguard against scams.

Whilst acknowledging the rarity of fraud, Law Society President Joe Egan highlighted the vitality of the entire profession maintaining “constant vigilance against those who try to defraud them.”

Drawing attention to the growing risk of fraud during a property transaction, HM Land Registry Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar, Graham Farrant stated: “Property is an attractive target to criminals due to its high value. As well as financial loss, a fraudulent property transaction also creates emotional distress for home owners and prospective buyers. Our priority is to ensure the integrity of the Land Register by preventing fraudulent registrations.”

In addition to highlighting new fraud risks, the advice expands by providing case studies, describing the various ways in which fraudsters are attempting to scam conveyancing solicitors and signposting the things to look out for.

Commenting on the key role that solicitors have in client protection, Egan stated: “Solicitors have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their clients from fraud – while it can seem a burden, it is part of the extra value our clients know they get when dealing with a solicitor.”

The relevance of the advice was also highlighted by Farrant, who cited the growing frequency of fraud within the UK.  

“Fraud is becoming an increasingly significant issue and is now the most commonly experienced crime in the UK, with 3.5 million cases reported in the Office for National Statistics crime survey last year. We need to continue to work closely with conveyancing solicitors to ensure the necessary checks and safeguards are in place to beat the fraudsters. This joint practice note will assist all parties involved in the house buying process to effectively tackle fraud.”

The advice can be accessed here.

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