According to Peter Watkin of Law Workshop one of the interesting outcomes of the Law Society Conveyancing Protocol, which of course is adopted by all CQS accredited firms, will be the interpretation by conveyancers to the enjoinder in stage B step 32 to “Raise only those specific enquiries required to clarify issues arising out of the documents submitted…Indiscriminate use of “standard” additional enquiries may constitute a breach of this protocol.
Peter says, “Regardless of the protocol, we think it will be hard for some conveyancers to give up their standard enquiry forms”. The protocol goes on to say that conveyancers are under no obligation to answer such forms of enquiries. Today’s Conveyancer has already seen CQS firms using their traditional standard enquiry forms outside of the protocol.
Jonathan Smithers new Chair of the Law Society Conveyancing and Land Law Committee responded by saying “I would accept that it may take a while for all the processes to come embedded in the system, which is why newly admitted firms have up to 6 months for their conveyancing fee earners (not just solicitors) to undertake the mandatory protocol training available through the Law Society CPD centre.
The Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for each CQS firm will have signed an undertaking that their firm will comply with the Protocol. If there are instances of non-compliance the CQS Office will want to hear about them so that they can be monitored. Enforcement of the Scheme rules is an important part of the CQS Scheme design.”
Peter goes on to point out that the only standard set of enquiries provided in the protocol is form TA6 but in the brief days of HIPs, a supplemental form TA11 was also used. Form TA11 is now obsolete but it contained a number of supplemental questions that many conveyancers welcomed. Peter envisages that many transactions may be marred by a dispute between conveyancers as to whether the buyer’s standard enquires are legitimate or not.
Perhaps one way to minimise such disputes would be to review the extent of standard enquiries within form TA6 or to bring back a revised Form TA11.
Peter says “As Form TA11 showed, there are a number of useful additional standard enquiries that are not covered in form TA6. One only has to look at the recent decision in Cleaver which highlights the value and importance of pre contract enquiries once again.”
Jonathan commented by saying “The Law Society has always recognised that the Enquiry Form (currently TA6) needs to be kept under review and as the new Chair of the Law Society Conveyancing and Land Law Committee taking a fresh look at form TA6 is one of my priorities.”
Law Workshop are compiling a list of standard sets of enquiries. They would be very happy to hear from any conveyancer with examples of their standard form of enquiries or from conveyancers with examples of standard enquiries they consider inappropriate in the light of step 32. If you pass your list of examples to Today’s Conveyancer at [email protected]
we will pass them on to Law Workshop.
Today’s Conveyancer, bringing you the latest conveyancing news and updates.