In a string of unfortunate events, it was concluded that in E.Survs Ltd v Goldsmith Williams Solicitors Case  EWHC 1104 (Ch), the firm of solicitors and surveyors involved in the case, were negligent with regards to an over-valuation of a property, resulting in a final claim of £200,000.
In December 2005, the borrower, Mr Gayler, applied for a remortgage on his property in the Buxton area. The default of payment upon the loan led to the unravelling of the mistakes made by the conveyancing solicitor when undertaking the transaction.
Upon instruction, the surveyor estimated the property to be worth £850,000 with the loan required being £500,000, offering a loan-to-value of 59%. This valuation was based upon the following evidence, stipulated in the surveyors report:
“(1) On p.3 he recorded that he had been informed that the property had been purchased "around 6 yrs ago at £600,000".
(2) On p.5 he noted the details of 3 comparable properties, identifying that all 3 had been sold that month, in one case subject to contract, for £725,000 in two cases and £825,000 in the third. On the same page he stated the current market value as being £725,000.”
Upon reflection, the evidence provided resulted in the conclusion that the purchase price was in fact £390,000, a difference of £210,000 from the original quoted sale price. The Courts determined that this discrepancy should have been identified by the solicitor through their due-diligence in interrogation of the title.
TitleChecker£®, in addition to its title investigation, would have flagged the amount paid in the most recent transaction, helping the solicitor identify potentially fraudulent activity.
In addition to this, it was also identified that the property had been registered to Mr Gaylor for less than 6 months. Under the ‘Length of Ownership’ in 5.1.1 of the CML handbook, it states “report to us immediately if the owner or registered proprietor has been registered for less than six months.” As part of a solicitor’s due-diligence it is essential that they report, to the surveyor and lender, not only issues about the title but also those that can have an adverse impact on the value of the property.
TitleChecker£® would have identified this discrepancy on the front page of the report, as it automatically ascertains if the property has been registered for less than 6 months.
The case of E.Survs Ltd v Goldsmith Williams Solicitors identifies the importance of the duty of care that must be undertaken by the conveyancing solicitor. Any information that can impact the valuation of a property must be identified to the lender in order for the correct decision to be reached. The above case identifies how failure to do so can result in the liability of any loss that the lender may suffer, being carried by the conveyancing solicitor.
How can TitleChecker£® help your with your due-diligence?
TitleChecker£® is a unique report that automates the task of investigating a title and examines Land Registry records and the relevant part of the CML Handbook Part 1 and Part 2 (where lender identified) to identify elements that require attention.
Every TitleChecker£® is cross-referenced with Part 1 and Part 2 (where Lender Identified) of the CML Handbook.
TitleChecker£® assists in reducing exposure to lender negligence claims. TitleChecker£® provides a succinct report, highlighting any areas that require further investigation with an amber or red flag (where no issues are identified, a green flag will be shown). The free refresher service provides an audit trail as the report updates as pertinent information is added or amended within the case.
Under the CQS, solicitors are required to demonstrate their duty of disclosure when acting for their client. Products that can demonstrate the work that the conveyancer has carried out aid with the audit trail in providing this information.