Conveyancers “overlooking post-completion work” after taking fee

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has outlined its “growing concern” that post-completion work is not being done properly and promptly.

In a new addition to its annual Risk Agenda, the CLC highlighted the danger of practitioners taking their eye off the ball after they have taken their fee, with the failures sometimes only identified years later.

It said:

“While there may be delays at HM Land Registry (HMLR), these are made worse by slow or sloppy title change applications from conveyancers.

“The data that the CLC receives from HMLR on requisition rates gives cause for concern that some practices are not taking their responsibility seriously or are using HMLR to check their work rather than making an effort to ensure that it is accurate to begin with.

“Some seem to treat post-completion matters as an afterthought as it is undertaken after they collect their fee.

“The reality is that clients have been charged for this work and there is an obligation to perform it promptly and with diligence.”

The CLC warned that taking the fee and not completing the work was a breach of its accounts rules and demonstrated a lack of integrity.

The regulator suggested that an absence of post-completion processes could also be feeding into the problem identified for the first time in last year’s Risk Agenda of failures to comply with undertakings. The CLC has recently published a new advisory note on the subject.

This year’s said:

“While we understand that sometimes an individual breach is due to the action/inaction of a third party – such as a lender or management company – the CLC is increasing its activity on this issue and tracking practices where we are seeing repeated or systemic breaches.

“Problems can emerge from practices not having proper processes in place post-completion or even to provide undertakings in the first place.”

The CLC said it would this year review its complaints code in light of new guidance from the Legal Services Board and also conducting a ‘deep dive’ on complaints handling in 2024, focused on those practices that are responsible for a disproportionate number of referrals to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO).

Last year, the CLC had to pay nearly £1m of its budget of £3.56m as its contribution to LeO, even though more than six in ten CLC practices do not generate complaints to it.

CLC chief executive Sheila Kumar said:

“The good news for consumers is that licensed conveyancers are dedicated professionals who our monitoring shows provide excellent services under often stressful circumstances.

“But trip wires abound in the modern legal landscape and the Risk Agenda is part of our work to ensure the lawyers the CLC regulates not fall over them.”

The document also covers anti-money laundering, sanctions, accounts code compliance, conflicts of interest, IT resilience and recovery, and file storage.


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