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Conveyancers fight back against 'errors' league table publication

The Society of Licensed Conveyancers says it is worried that HM Land Registry’s decision to publish details of apparent errors in conveyancing firms’ paperwork could be misleading to the public. 

Yesterday we reported that the registry was making some 5,000 ‘requisitions’ daily - that is, requests for further information from conveyancers so the registry can process the paperwork related to a property transaction. 

The registry suggests at least some of the requests could have been avoided if the applications had been completed appropriately at the outset; it says it will publish a league table of the 500 largest conveyancing operators who file to the registry, listing the number of requisitions required in each case.

Now the SLC says this could be misleading. 

“Firms that deal with new title applications (plots purchased and leases) and a high volume of leasehold transactions could be disadvantaged as these applications invariably raise unavoidable requisitions” says a statement from the SLC.

“As an example, one of our member firms report that of their requisitions in 2017, 33 per cent related to Certificates of Compliance from Landlord/Management Companies and nine per cent related to discharges awaiting release from existing lenders. In other words, over 40 per cent of their requisitions were outside of their control” the statement continues. 

The society’s statement goes on: “It must be clear to the public that requisition rates are post completion matters, and therefore are not necessarily an indication of the Conveyancers performance or quality of service in the home buying process. It must be stressed that releasing this data will have no direct impact on the speed of conveyancing for home buyers and sellers.”

The society also claims there are “long standing backlogs of work” at HM Land Registry, which “have still not been cleared.” 

The SLC says it also believes that there should be a quid pro quo whereby the delays and problems caused to conveyancers are finally resolved to truly demonstrate that the Land Registry is playing in its part in making conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper. 

“Perhaps ‘Heal thyself’ is an appropriate mantra here” says the SLC.

  • Peter Ambrose

    We seem to be missing the point here.

    This property industry is riddled with inefficiency, corruption and downright incompetence. We need to start the conversation about data and using this to determine what is going on.

    Requisitions are one method - albeit, somewhat of a blunt instrument, but what about exchange times. Why are consumers saddled with average exchange times of 16 weeks on average? Those of us "on the coal-face" know the answer - it's caseloads that are too high and inefficient practices.

    It's time to ask your favourite referred lawyer (or, sadly, your panel-managed lackey, for many agents out there ) what their exchange rates are, and the relationship between the slave-fees that are paid to these subordinated and enfeebled organisations.

    Just a thought for a windy Wednesday.

    Peter

  • Rob Hailstone

    The SLC has a fair point if the cause of the requisitions are completely outside of the control of the buyer's conveyancer.

    Why target the top 500? Wouldn't it be fairer if all firms were included and poor results etc published on a percentage basis. I.e. if one has 10 completions a month and requisitions are raised 7 times versus 100 completions a month and only 20 requisitions are raised. Is this an exercise in reducing the number of requisitions only or is it an exercise in improving poor performers?

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    1. Great idea, the more publication of errors the better. And do it for fall law firms who use the Land Registry. The data is there by definition. Those who make the most errors will be protesting, just you watch.

    2. Fast exchange times. Bingo! We target a 4 week max exchange on all deals. The point in promoting it, is that everyone knows to watch out if Trethowans are acting, as you can expect to be pushed, as every single member of our conveyancing team get the bigger picture.....clients, estate agents and mortgage adviser are all looking to us - and every conveyancer - to achieve one thing - a fast exchange. And in the case of the client, as expertly and accurately as possible. So....no paralegals, no conveyor belt of multiple people looking after a single file, and certainly no poorly trained staff. That pyramid model is archaic, which we never followed, and certainly has no place in 2018. Instead, we pay higher salaries, as we demand expert conveyancers, with law degrees and/or serious experience who can make instant decisions, never having to wait for the only solicitor in the organisation to come past once a week to check if the file is right or wrong and sign it off. No daft enquiries to drag the deal into the mud. That sort of service will not do. If an estate agent calls, or a client, or mortgage adviser, our conveyancers know the file, as it is their file, and they tell in detail how it is, and what needs to be done. We know not all conveyancers like facing our pace, but frankly, be prompt and expert, and you'll understand why we enjoy our jobs, and why clients rate us as highly as they do.

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