Safeguard client money – when do you check the ‘other side’s’ account details?
Carrying out an LC AES (Account and Entity Screen) search ought to be as fundamental as a CON29.
Ensuring adherence to Principle 10 in 2015 means that conveyancers need the support of a service created to help them make informed decisions about whether or not to send funds to the other side.
2014 saw Bogus firm reports peak at over 700 reports; the highest amount ever recorded. Ensuring you know where your client and lender funds are going is more paramount than ever before.
The big question now is how can you be certain that the account number provided is a bona fide client account number from a bona fide law firm?
Arm yourself with as much information as possible through the implementation of AES searches on each and every transaction conducted by your conveyancing team. Through the application of a blanket policy with regard to checking where funds are going; you will be safeguarding yourselves, your firm, the lender and, most importantly, your client against possible fraud.
The right time…?
A crucial part of this process is WHEN to carry out the search. New users often conduct a search AFTER Exchange and BEFORE completion. Our advice is to ALWAYS carry out the AES search PRIOR to Exchange of Contracts.
This therefore negates the heartache for your client purchaser and also ensures that you are armed with the information at an earlier juncture within the process; thus avoiding delay further into the transaction and, crucially, prior to any legally binding contract.
TOP TIP: Take the opportunity to request account details in the initial letter which is sent to the vendor’s firm at the start of the conveyancing transaction.
In order to request such details, perhaps explain that you carry out internal risk management processes before sending any funds, and for that reason, you require the firm’s account details as soon as possible.
By implementing an AES search earlier on in the transaction, you are able to take advantage of the UPDATE search offered on all searches.
Double your efforts in ensuring that funds are being sent to the correct and legitimate source; the AES service provides a FREE update search for you when you are nearing completion in order for you to demonstrate due diligence and offer reassurance to your client and lender.