Are conveyancing solicitors tripping over themselves and making mistakes as they try to keep up with the demands of an unstoppable property bubble? Between 2013 /14, one in every five complaints received by the Legal Ombudsmen (LeO) involved residential conveyancing, which they state has become “the most complained about area of law.”
In fact, complaints regarding conveyancing issues made to the LeO by residential property buyers are reported to have increased by 25 per cent in the last twelve months.
It was further revealed that of the 1,500 complaints a significant number centred upon the payment of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) during the purchase of residential property valued above £125,000. According to LeO, as property prices continue to accelerate “there is concern that lawyers are sacrificing quality of service to keep up with demand.”
As house prices continue to spiral and conveyancing workloads increase even further, the average house-buyer will be increasingly concerned to ensure they will be not become a victim of the current property whirlwind.
“It’s a worrying development” says Shelley Naughton, Professional Negligence Solicitor at Your Legal Friend, “particularly as property buyers rely on the diligence and integrity of legal professionals to help guide them through the complex and financially critical process of buying a new home.”
Shelley adds, “There are measures that people can take to try and limit the risk of negligence at the outset. With the prospect of a mortgage interest rate hike looming it is understandable that clients and their solicitors are keen to conclude their transactions as soon as possible. However, a little time taken to do some quality checks at the beginning of the process could help to avoid major issues further down the line.”
When trying to find an expert and reliable conveyancer it’s important to look for practitioners who come with a recommendation rather than simply pick a firm at random from a website or accepting the solicitor suggested by your estate agent as they may not offer impartial advice.
It’s also vital to carry out background checks to ensure there are no published complaints made against the conveyancing practice. If possible, speak with the conveyancer in person rather than relying on email, which enables you to ask questions as they arise and should provide a better feel for the people who will be following your instructions.
Even when you have done all you can to check the credentials of a conveyancing solicitor there is no guarantee that mistakes won’t still be made. In this case, talking to a professional negligence expert will enable you to work out where you stand to redress a situation when things do go wrong or instructions not followed.
Doing your homework, keeping a constant eye, a written record and being on top of events as they unfold can be the most valuable assets in helping to successfully bring a complaint of professional negligence to justice, should the need arise.