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Controversial conveyancer hits back at 'forgotten stamp duty' claim

The controversial conveyancing firm at the centre of an apparent cyber attack has hit back at newspaper claims that it did not inform some house buyers about stamp duty payments.

The Daily Telegraph says some buyers received letters from the HMRC or were threatened with debt collectors because of stamp duty liabilities which they say they were not informed about.

This allegedly came about following the apparent ransomware attack on the Simplify Group, which has conveyancing brands accounting in total for an estimated five per cent of all residential transactions.


Towards the end of last year the websites of Simplify brands carried messages alerting agents and others of slowdowns in processing conveyancing activity.

The police were called in but the company itself was criticised by some conveyancing groups and agents for not keeping clients fully informed.


Now, in response to the latest Telegraph accusations, a Simplify statement to Estate Agent Today says: “In the early stages of the incident, there were some delays on payments and transactions as we found solutions to restore our systems safely and enable clients to move. The delay included some SDLT payments but there would never be a need for clients to pay the SDLT twice.

“The reason for letters being issued would be either delayed reporting for payments, which would lead to automated chase letters, or instances where both manual and automated responses led to submission of identical returns. In these instances, stamp duty was paid against submission one, but submission two showed money outstanding, triggering a letter, which we would then write to cancel.

“We understand that such situations are an inconvenience and we have worked hard to rectify the situation for the small number of clients involved, including settling any delay penalties, as appropriate. SDLT payments have been processed as normal now for a number of months, so as acknowledged in the recent article, this is not a current issue.”


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