A law firm is warning that one of the key risks facing that industry this year revolves around professional negligence claims against conveyancers who may have made errors under pressure during the stamp duty holiday.
The law firm is RPC and it identifies a number of risks to the sector in 2022.
These include civil unrest due to the Covid restrictions, growing numbers of lawsuits regarding sports injuries, and an acceleration in disputes over corporate mergers.
However, a further specific risk concerns insurance claims arising relating to the Stamp Duty holiday.
An RPC statement says: “Pressure to complete property transactions quickly in order to capitalise on the Stamp Duty holiday is likely to have led to mistakes being made by some conveyancing firms. This could lead to professional negligence claims being made against conveyancers, with insurers being asked to reimburse the entire property purchase. Conveyancers may also face claims for having missed the cut-off point for the holiday.”
The workload undertaken by conveyancers for much of 2021, prior to the extended SDLT holiday finally ending, has been well-reported and has produced respect from across the house moving industry.
The Law Gazette in July last year reported one conveyancing firm - The Partnership - recording some 200 emails a day, early morning shift starts before the phones started ringing non-stop from 9am, plus very high numbers of late-night finishes.
One solicitor, The Partnership’s Kate Atkinson - its head of legal practice - told the LG that she had worked in property for over a decade and “can safely say I have never experienced the relentless pressure I have seen over the past few months.”
“I would normally not finish before 9pm and, even then, I still had a lot of tasks to complete for my clients which made it very difficult to leave my desk” she said.
RPC also warns about ransomware attacks.
Speculation continues about the IT systems crash at the Simplify Group of conveyancers which was first known about in early November and which led to significant delays in some residential transactions involving Simplify member companies: Purplebricks is reported to have been the estate agency worst affected by the issue.
On this subject, the RPC statement says: “2021 was a record year for cyber attacks, with the number of incidents doubling from the previous year. This has led to capacity issues within the cyber insurance market. Despite the number of products increasing, many insurers expect premiums to remain high, following a 73 per cent increase in Q3 2021.”