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Whilst browsing my local DVD store the other night I spied a copy of the recent hit film 12 Years a Slave. That title reminded me of a few words my first boss, conveyancing solicitor Tony Edwards said to me: well done for passing this batch of exams but please remember it will take you 12 years before you really become a conveyancer.

At the time I thought what a ridiculous statement, I already knew quite a lot about conveyancing and land law, I only need another 12 months to hone my skills, not 12 years! With the benefit of hindsight I now realise that Tony was being generous with his time estimate. Some 30 years on I am still encountering property related legal problems for the first time.

It may be that some of the old, trickier issues, have nearly disappeared (unregistered land for example) but for every one that has gone, at least two new ones have replaced it. On that basis the amount of potential pitfalls a conveyancer now has to look out for has increased many times.

Some of the newer or at least more common issues are ID and Anti Money Laundering checks, Solar Panels, Japanese Knotweed, Unilateral Notices, Flooding, Fracking and HS2. Add to that the time it now takes to become accredited as a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) firm and to get on, and/or stay on lender panels, and you have a workload that has probably doubled.

This is in a time where the public and work introducers expect instant responses and results. In a previous article I explained how the constant flow of interruptions that occur every day (non-appointment client visits, numerous phone calls asking the same question and emails) can slow the whole process down. I liken these constant interruptions to texting whilst driving. You cannot deal with both simultaneously, in an efficient and safe manner.

If most conveyancers are like I was, they inspect every document (title deeds, searches and enquiries etc) with a fine tooth comb. Mainly because they want their clients to own a blight free property, but also because they know they are the go to' person if problems arise. Those go to' experiences can cause an increase in PII premiums, removal from lender panels and a lengthy negligence claim to fight.

I was fortunate enough to have many estate agent contacts who recommended work to me and I was very busy. However, we had an understanding, if there was going to be an undue delay, I would let them know and they would give me the space, time and sometimes help needed to resolve the issues causing that delay properly.

My mantra was if there was a problem or issue that I would not accept if I was buying a particular property for my own use I would not expect my client to accept it. If you turn that on its head, I suppose I am saying if it is good enough for me or my agent contacts if I was acting for them, then it is good enough for my clients.

The point of this article Estate agents pick your favourite conveyancer well, make sure they have enough experience to know what they are doing and enough empathy and common sense for you to trust them completely when the going gets tough.

*Rob Hailstone is Founder of the Bold Legal Group

rh@boldgroup.co.uk www.boldgroup.co.uk


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