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Radical end to stamp duty holiday suggested by legal bodies

A radical way to end the current stamp duty holiday has been suggested by three different legal bodies.

The Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association, have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak proposing an alternative to a cliff edge end, either on March 31 as scheduled or at a later date.

“The proposed approach is simple” says a statement from the bodies. “Allow any transaction on which a conveyancing lawyer has been formally instructed by a buyer before February 28 2021 to qualify for the exemption provided the property purchase completes within 12 months.” 


Simon Law, SLC chairperson, says: “Restoring the property market to a sense of normality has to be the priority as we emerge from the effects of the Covid pandemic restrictions. 

“The SDLT holiday has had the effect of injecting an unsustainable stimulus into the market. Bringing it to an end with a ‘cliff edge’ expiry date will result in a postcode lottery worth several thousand pounds to some and not others, and has already created considerable stress on buyers, lawyers, lenders, search companies and local authorities amongst others.”

He continues: “The solution that we have proposed alongside the BLG and Conveyancing Association is simple and will have the effect of immediately delivering a calming effect, allowing natural market forces to resume in the property market. The postcode lottery would be removed, and transactions would follow their normal path to completion without an artificial time constraint.”


The statement from the SLC also says that it believes there are strong signs of a robust property market in 2021 without the need for further government intervention.

Currently the holiday is scheduled to end on March 31 but last week The Times - quoting unnamed government sources - said this would be extended to late June.

The issue is expected to be resolved at Wednesday's Budget statement.

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    Bit late in the day.

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    • N W
    • 01 March 2021 15:22 PM

    nice of the conveyancers to play catch up with the agents....... as usual

  • Simon Brown ESTAS

    Hopefully the Chancellor will take note. Tapering the SDLT holiday has always been preferable to just extending the 'cliff edge'.

  • Mark Walmsley

    I guess The Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association have been to busy working on files to address this any earlier! Still, this is the correct path surely, possible just a little late with a proposal?


    These groups would be better employed in recommending an end to Stamp Duty altogether. They seem to be conspiring to try to take demand out of the market which is not what agents, law firms or anyone else in the property market wants. There is not strong evidence that the underlying market is robust. The latest mortgage approval data shows a large fall off in approvals in January and the predictions are levels below seasonal average in Q3 and 4 of this year. Not to mention of course that the proposed solution is vague. "Formally instructed", meaning when papers signed, money on account given, ID checks completed, oral instructions etc? Much too vague for HMRC.

  • Rob Hailstone

    There were two problems that needed addressing, firstly, that a number of buyers who were unable to complete by the deadline would lose out, and secondly avoiding a deadline/cliff edge. The solution proposed hopefully goes some way to rectifying/solving both, in as much as they can be solved.

    Formally instructing a property lawyer seemed to be easier to identify and fairer than the mortgage offer or sales memo ideas that have been suggested.

    I can’t believe that David believes in conspiracy theories. A ludicrous suggestion, and not one I would ever be involved in.

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    I think this is more of a publicity stunt. Conveyancing is regulated by the Law Society and Council of Licenced Conveyancers.
    Neither of those regulators who speak fo all conveyancers in the country, have added their signatures to this letter which surely would have added more gravitas and credibility to any request?
    I read elsewhere that these three trade bodies are involved with the Law Society and ILEX on trying to come up with ways of improving the Conveyancing process (so much can be written on that another time) so it’s significant their working partners opted out on this letter?
    I think it’s more a case of being agenda/ego driven and an eleventh intervention that’s highly unlikely to succeed as they probably know. But at least they can try and claim brownie points for trying?

  • Rob Hailstone

    Alan, we consulted with as many of our members firms as we could (a significant number), and our proposals were (and are) very widely supported. They are not ego driven, it is not a publicity stunt, nor do we want (or need) brownie points.


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