Do I Need A Solicitor And Conveyancer?
When you buy or sell a property in England and Wales, you need to hire a legal professional to act on your behalf. This person can either be a Conveyancing Solicitor or a Licensed Conveyancer. Both these professionals have very different educational and professional backgrounds, so which should you choose? When you search for a quote for conveyancing you might receive quotes from both. It is important to carefully compare conveyancers and choose the right one for you.
Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers
Both conveyancers and solicitors are conveyancing specialists. They are both fully regulated by their own regulatory bodies and must be insured. Solicitors are governed by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). Licensed Conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). Both conveyancers and solicitors follow similar conveyancing practices and procedures.
Most property solicitors will at some point have had experience of other areas of law such as matrimonial, criminal, litigation or personal injury work and so on. Some of them even take on this work alongside the conveyancing they carry out.
Licensed Conveyancers are solely property specialists, who trained only in conveyancing and property law, mainly learning on the job and gaining qualifications along the way. The CLC (Council of Licensed Conveyancers) define licensed conveyancers as follows:
“a specialist property lawyer qualified in all aspects of property law in England and Wales. A licensed conveyancer is also a Commissioner of Oaths and an increasing number are also licensed to offer probate services. ”
Most conveyancers focus on residential conveyancing. Only a few take on commercial property and probate cases.
In practice there isn’t a great deal to distinguish Solicitors from Licensed Conveyancers. Both conduct the conveyancing process in a similar manner, carrying out the legal paperwork and procedures necessary to transfer the ownership of property. Whether acting for buyers, sellers or lenders, licensed conveyancers provide a similar service to clients as a conveyancing solicitor. You can make a conveyancing solicitors comparison here and receive a quote for conveyancing from on of our lender panel solicitors in just minutes.
What Are The Main Differences Between Solicitors And Licensed Conveyancers?
- Licensed conveyancers can Act on Both Sides – Licensed conveyancers are allowed to act on both sides of a property transaction. They are able to represent both the buyer and the seller in a property chain. This is thought to be one of the more controversial differences since it could be argued that one legal professional cannot possibly represent the interests of 2 seperate, parties when it is highly likely that their interests will at some point conflict.
There are several ways in which a conflict of interest could arise. Imagine the survey was carried out and costly repairs were found to be needed. Property price would have to be renegotiated by a lawyer who was working for both parties. This could make impartiality a problem.
- Referral Fees – The SRA Code of Conduct Rule 9, state that Solicitors are required, very much like FSA regulated companies, to disclose any referral fee paid to a marketing or referral agency. This new rule came in with the new pricing transparency laws in December 2018 which mean that Solicitors are duty bound to clearly disclose all pricing plus VAT upfront, including any referral fees they paid to get your business.
- Training – Solicitors will have typically completed a 3 or 4 year degree followed by a 2 year Legal Practice Course (LPC). They will then have undertaken a 2 year ‘Training Contract’ with a Solicitors practice before finally qualifying.
Licensed Conveyancers learn their trade on the job, taking regular exams whilst working at the same time. As you can see, there is a huge discrepancy in the training and experience of both professionals. Occasionally though, some Solicitors convert to become Licensed Conveyancers. This is because it can offer them more commercial freedom (see above).
- Multi Disciplinary – Solicitors often work in practices employ Solicitors who specialise in other areas of law. This is handy if you need any other advice regarding your transaction that falls out of the remit of conveyancing. You might want help with wills, litigation, family law, tax and so on
- Price – Because they are fully qualified in law and have gone through years worth of training, conveyancing solicitors tend to be a bit more expensive than licensed conveyancers. On the other hand, if you use a licensed conveyancer and issues arises they might not be able to deal with them and you could end up having to hire a solicitor as well. This would of course end up being more expensive than if you had simply used a conveyancing solicitor in the first place..
‘Can I sell my house without instructing a solicitor?’
Property transactions are not as straightforward as you might think and we do not advise going it alone. Especially when you can get a quote for conveyancing so quickly and easily online making the process much easier and trouble free. Here are the main reasons we believe you should hire a conveyancer or a solicitor to deal with your property transaction.
- Problems arise – There are likely to be many unforeseen problems and complex legal issues that require a solicitor or conveyancer to resolve. A legal professional will have all the relevant experience and knowledge to deal with any potential queries with the title/searches/money transfer and all the other complicated processes involved in property transfer. The property may have not been previously registered or be registered with a restriction or charge against it that may need to be resolved. Where would you start with that?
- Contracts – A professional solicitor or conveyancer will write up a draft contract according to a particular transaction. They will include any special conditions needed for your individual sale, all put in place to protect you legally. This must be done with professional legal knowledge.
- Enquiries – The buyer’s solicitor will raise a number of enquiries regarding the property you are selling. Any response given can be used as evidence in court, should the buyer intend to bring up a litigious matter with the sale, so it is vital that enquiries are answered in the correct way. If you reply to the enquiries you could word things in such a way that you end up giving warranties. Using a solicitor would protect you against this. A solicitor or conveyancer is best equipped to deal with enquiries of this nature as it is a legally binding matter and they are experienced in this field.
- Completion – When a property sale completes, the funds are transferred to your solicitor by the buyer’s solicitor. This is done after they have verified that they are sending them to a genuine solicitor’s client’s account. If there is no solicitor, the money would have to be sent straight to the sellers. This poses a massive risk with regard to money laundering regulations. Solicitors will always be reluctant to send money directly to sellers accounts.
- Redeeming the existing lending against the property – The seller’s solicitors need to provide undertakings that their current mortgage on the property will be paid off upon completion. This is usually a requirement of the buyer’s solicitors. Undertakings are the promises that solicitors make. Should they fail to carry out a promise, they will face a severe penalty, or in a worse case scenario they will no longer be allowed to practice law. If you are working alone and without the help of a solicitor, an undertaking is not possible. This means the buyer’s solicitors would be completing a transaction without proper confirmation that the mortgage will ever be repaid. This such a risk that a buyers solicitor should not let them proceed.
Whatever your situation, we advise employing the services of a conveyancing professional when dealing with such an important, high value transaction such as a house sale. The ease of acquiring an online quote for conveyancing makes choosing one simple and extremely quick. Conveyancing Supermarket only work with professionals on the Lenders panel.