Law Soc edges towards curbs on conveyancing representation

THE LAW Society has moved a tentative step nearer to separate solicitor representation for borrower and lender in conveyancing matters.

But council members, who took three hours to decide the issue last week, removed some of the proposal's teeth, agreeing to “unrestricted joint representation of borrower and lender may in some circumstances no longer be an option”.

THE LAW Society has moved a tentative step nearer to separate solicitor representation for borrower and lender in conveyancing matters.

But council members, who took three hours to decide the issue last week, removed some of the proposal's teeth, agreeing to “unrestricted joint representation of borrower and lender may in some circumstances no longer be an option”.

There will be further consultation on an alternative form

of restricted representation. Dubbed the most important issue facing the profession in the past decade, the restrictions respond to concerns about conflict of interest, the cost of default and the onerous demands made on lawyers by banks and building societies.

Richard Hegarty, chair of the property and commercial services committee, urged members to agree to the original, stronger recommendation.

Hegarty said: “We can no longer do nothing. The consequences of doing nothing are extremely dire.”

He said 49 per cent of the value of last year's indemnity fund had been paid out on conveyancing issues. However, a profession-wide consultation revealed 70 per cent of respondents were against separate representation.

Allowing joint representation to continue would mean a “horrendous risk”, he said.

Edward Nally said the proposed changes would be “hugely unpopular” and would mean conveyancing work would be monopolised by bigger firms and lenders' in-house lawyers.

David Mander said separate representation would be perceived by the public as making home-buying much slower and more expensive.

The council will not act further until two committees and the board of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund have investigated options on restricted joint representation and canvassed opinion more widely.

There will be further consultation on an alternative form of restricted representation. Dubbed the most important issue facing the profession in the past decade, the restrictions respond to concerns about conflict of interest, the cost of default and the onerous demands made on lawyers by banks and building societies.

Richard Hegarty, chair of the property and commercial services committee, urged members to agree to the original, stronger recommendation.

Hegarty said: “We can no longer do nothing. The consequences of doing nothing are extremely dire.”

He said 49 per cent of the value of last year's indemnity fund had been paid out on conveyancing issues. However, a profession-wide consultation revealed 70 per cent of respondents were against separate representation.

Allowing joint representation to continue would mean a “horrendous risk”, he said.

Edward Nally said the proposed changes would be “hugely unpopular” and would mean conveyancing work would be monopolised by bigger firms and lenders' in-house lawyers.

David Mander said separate representation would be perceived by the public as making home-buying much slower and more expensive.

The council will not act further until two committees and the board of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund have investigated options on restricted joint representation and canvassed opinion more widely.