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Surcharge for 'five day exchange and completion' is slammed as rip-off

A critic of the conveyancing process has accused a law firm’s charge of £95 for “exchange and completion within five working days” of being “scandalous” and “a rip off”.

Matt Faizey, head of Midlands-based removal and storage company M & G Transport, has written on his blog that the move is an example of “self-serving profiteering”.

Faizey made the comments after seeing a completion statement issued to a friend of his by a Midlands conveyancer. 


The particular entry saying 'Exchange and completion within 5 working days' left Faziey stunned. 

He wrote: “An extra charge for exchanging and completing within five days. It’s almost comical. The very people who effectively decide if this happens then charge for it as though it’s the clients fault. A situation is now acceptable amongst many conveyancers that they seek to profit from their own poor conduct, and profit from the very people who are lending them their emotional trust not to stitch them up and increase stress for them, by doing exactly that!”

Faizey says the current government review, aimed at finding quicker and easier ways of moving home, should demand what he calls “a fixed, sensible two week period in between exchange and completion.”

He says that this would also help reduce the threats of gazundering and gazumping as well as reducing the stress levels of the parties to the move. 

Without such a policy, Faizey suggests, “the very people most oft being consulted are actually contributing to the circumstances whereby gazundering and the stress of last minute notice is allowed to exist, and ... are profiting from it.”

Faizey, who consulted a separate conveyancing solicitor to discuss his concern, says this is “profiteering from truly bad practice that is completely contrary to the public’s best interests.” 

He then jokes that perhaps removers should also charge for their shortcomings: “Maybe we should start something similar, say we put in our terms and conditions that if we turn up late we’ll bill the customer for us having a longer day?”

More seriously, he says his company has over 20 years lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue as a result of missed deadlines and problems inherent in the current house moving process. 

His blog concludes “I’m disgusted to discover this type of practice” - and you can read it in full here.

  • Rob Hailstone

    I replied directly to Matt last week re his blog:

    "Matt, I am talking generally now, and not necessarily in relation to the completion statement supplied.

    I presume you have no idea of the amount of work the conveyancer has to do between exchange and completion? Neither do you appreciate the extra risk involved when, presumably one of the clients in a chain, requests a short period between exchange and completion?

    You say:

    “Will this government review please finally enact what those of us have been calling for, for decades and mandate a fixed, sensible (2 week) period in between exchange and completion.”

    Well, I am with you on that and, I suspect, most conveyancers would be also. Some common ground at last.

    In the case in question it looks like the conveyancer is charging under £1,000.00 for a leasehold purchase. Whilst I agree that is not a bucket shop price it is not overly excessive either. Especially if the service provided is what the client wants and gets.

    The conveyancer receives under £1,000.00 for carrying out complicated, risky, time consuming work. I really don’t think there is much of a story here. It isn’t like the 5 working day charge was being hidden either.

    As you know the new Home Buying and Selling Group are looking into ways of speeding up the process and making it less stressful etc. You are in fact coming to our next meeting in May. Looks like it will be interesting. Hopefully productive and not just a slanging match."

  • Matt Faizey

    Hi Rob.
    Burying the charge in the T&C's and then ensuring it happens is not good practice.

    I have staff here with @30 years experience between them and more than 15,000 customers shared between the three of them. Our call logs are a litany and tale of stress, and wonder.

    Already this morning I have had a lady on the phone who has only yesterday been told she HAS to move on 29th. Local searches aren't even back. Her conveyance has told her it's a-ok to exchange and complete a couple of days before if needed !

    I have just told her to check the terms..... Moreover I have told her to go back and tell the rest of the chain not to contact her again with dates until every party is ready to exchange. Then, to tell them she would like no less than 2 weeks in-between exchange and completion.

    My staff here will likely have anywhere from 3-10 calls exactly the same through the day.

    And that's a normal day.

    This IS a story Rob. It's a story because it is ripping the public off and charging for events that a) are not in their interest and b) are under the control of the entity charging for the outcome.

  • Matt Faizey

    do any your members make this charge Rob?

    And if any conveyancers do wish to critic this article maybe they could publicly state here in the reply if they charge it.......

    or will this now ensure the tumbleweed starts to blow across the page?

  • Rob Hailstone

    Was the charge buried, how and why would they ensure 'it' happens? The extra charge is being levied to try to prevent it happening.

    If your lady can dictate to the rest of the chain, good luck to her. Chances are someone else will say if I don't move on a certain date they will pull out. Her conveyancers will not want a few days between exchange and completion but will agree it if it saves her transaction.

    Conveyancers do not dictate completion dates, client do.

    You need to spend a day or two in a busy conveyancers office to try to begin to understand what happens and why.

    "You can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

  • Matt Faizey

    Conveyancer said 13th (today) for completion nearly 2 weeks ago. Also told client last Wednesday they'd exchange the day before.
    Only gave the client the contract to sign last Monday and said 'have it back to me by the 12th in order to exchange the day before'

    I spoke to the lady in question yesterday afternoon.

    Setting that aside, our office and many others have wondered for a while why the same names of conveyancers are associated with last minute delays....

    Either way, it's a rip-off, and bad practice.

    Rob, I've walked 500miles in the clients shoes. Moreover have been studying this for best part of two decades now.

    How about you display true concern and empathise with the public instead of just defending conveyancers

  • Matt Faizey

    and tell us if you, or your members charge this fee...?

    I'm done responding now, busy day ahead

  • icon

    This is a complicated issue that can not be blamed solely on Conveyancers. Rob is correct - clients drive completion dates. As a firm we do not charge this fee and I highly doubt we would in the future. I can see what the firm were trying to achieve but I feel they have missed the mark. We should not be penalising clients for behaving in a way which our industry has made the norm. All stake holders need to continue the discussion around how we can build greater certainty into the process - that includes conveyancers, lenders, removal companies, management companies, and dare I say it .. estate agents. We all want our fee and the client wants to move ... surely we can do that in a way that looks after the customer's best interest.

  • Rob Hailstone

    30 years of acting for clients at the coal face Matt. 30 years of going the extra mile for every single one of my clients and my numerous estate agent contacts (70/80 hour weeks were the norm). You do not know me and you do not understand the conveyancing process. Your personal comments about me are unprofessional.

    I would not defend a poor conveyancer and I am certainly not defending a process that needs improving.

    I don't do any conveyancing myself now and have no idea which, if any, of my member firms make this charge.

    I will not be engaging in any more public discourse with you, until we meet in May, at what I hope will be a reasoned and constructive forum.

  • Matt Faizey

    What personal comments?

    I didn't make any.

  • icon

    "How about you display true concern and empathise with the public instead of just defending conveyancers” - Yikes, not warranted, and especially about Rob - of all people!

    'Tumbleweed' over - well sort of - WE used to reserve the right to charge more. Never aware anyone charged it so we got rid of it. The idea was to deal with the scenario where the lawyers (us) were completely (and innocently of course) overlooked and our client and the other side suddenly agreed a completion date, days away, and then assumed we could push all other commitments aside, handle pre completion searches and admin, request mortgage funds and deal with any funding panic at the drop of a hat. Almost dictating how we are to manage our own legal work. The extra revenue did not find the extra time, true, but it was a reflection of the fact that that is not the sort of rushing about a conveyancer needs to be doing and some extra reward for that extra effort and risk is justified.

    But the reality was that so few clients did that, and in fact, as the years passed, the converse is now true for our Team, we actually prefer - maybe not our secretaries who prepare them ;o) - going straight to exchange and completion, with no gap, or as little gap as possible. We like getting deals done, as we know we employ law degree and/or experienced conveyancers where legal mistakes will not have been made despite the pace, so go for it! True, it often wastes time, as one law firm usually lets you down and everything has to be re-prepared, or lenders cannot release the money in time.

    But I agree, such a charge should be incredibly rare, as applying it every time is wrong, and that makes it a hidden charge that lowers the conveyancer's headline rate to look more attractive to win the work, and yet bumps up the clients’ bill. One of the reasons why price is so irrelevant when finding a decent conveyancer. Cheap for a reason folks!

    Let’s be clear:

    1. A conveyancer is there to scrutinise the legal papers they are sent and to make sure there are no legal defects or onerous clauses
    2. If they overlook any (i.e no legal access to the property, no Council consents, or covenants consents, third party rights over the property etc) they can face a lawsuit costing £5k - £50k - £100k - £1m - the sky is the limit, and conveyancing is the highest area for claims
    3. Which other part of the home moving process can lead the hard working honest person to face career ending law suits (no firm will want a conveyancer with a pattern of mistakes)
    4. Exchange can only happen when all lawyers are ready in the chain, and their clients and lenders have no objection/consent.
    5. Completion date - that date is nothing to do with the lawyer, clients move not the lawyer
    6. I agree with Matt - there are shocking conveyancing standards, BUT as there are estate agents out there at the moment, usually the former are bred by the latter herding the public to conveyancers in return for eye watering amounts of cash bungs.
    7. I cannot abide the silly add ons by conveyancers - being their pure profit for doing their job: ‘filling in a stamp duty form’ or the ‘if it is unregistered land’ or the ‘acting for a lender’ or the 'ID checks ‘ or the ‘the mortgage offer sets out a legal fee your conveyancer will charge’ or the ‘check the bank details of the other lawyer search’ or the ‘if we have to ask more than 10 enquiries we charge per extra enquiry’….where so many apply every time. Just awful.
    8. Matt - you are right to ask why the same names of conveyancers are associated with last minute delays.... we now warn clients when we have certain law firms on the other side. It helps to manage expectations.

    Sadly - and I just Googled it - still no public or professional body is looking to improve the standard of the actual individual conveyancer who does the legal work. Fix that and property deals will fly through.

  • Matt Faizey


    For you Tim,

    Get past the bits about conveyancers and that end of the process and focus on all the NON conveyancer activity.


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