SRA invites views on real estate conflicts as code change looms

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is proposing amendments to conflict of interest rules in real estate transactions less than a month before its new code of conduct launches.

Firms have been invited to comment on the conflict of interest regulation, Rule 3, of the new code of conduct.

The SRA is seeking opinions on whether lawyers should be permitted to advise on both the buy and sell sides of conveyancing, property and mortgage service transactions.

Stephen Stephens, head of real estate at Lawrence Graham, said: “Conflicts of interest can cause problems. Often a large company can use another panel firm if a conflict arises, but sometimes it can create issues, so it does need discussing. This could spark a valuable debate in the real estate market.”

The consultation period, which closes on 26 July, will provide the SRA’s consultation committee with market views. The committee will then decide whether lawyers should have freedom to work on both sides of a transaction.

Policy executive at the SRA Derek Mitchell said: “It’s important to us to be constantly considering how the code is structured and implemented. We need to have a range of views in order to do this.”