Diary of a high street conveyancer: 17th July 2023

It is funny how I get an idea as to what I am going to write and then it becomes a topic for discussion on social media – a bit like when you discover a song and then you hear it everywhere!

So I had been thinking about how adversarial and confrontational conveyancing had become. And how it is not until we pick up the telephone to exchange contracts that we speak for the first time with the other solicitor.

Gone are the days when there was an issue on the title and we would pick up the phone and have a chat about how it could be resolved.

Now it is the case that emails go backwards and forwards between the buyers‘ and sellers’ solicitor, and the agent dips in and out as and when they feel inclined to make a comment.

I am always careful with the wording in emails as you never know who may end up seeing what is said! And I can say that I have seen over the years some unprofessional comments about other lawyers or other parties…

So, I saw a tweet which was along the lines of how being a lawyer was like turning up to work everyday and there was some one on the other side of the matter who also turned up to work everyday but that you tried to stop each other from actively doing your job.

Now I know that was referring to litigation matters, but to some extent, the same is true of conveyancing matters. It is as if we wait for the unnecessary queries to come in because that goes some way to stop us achieving a house move for a client.

When did conveyancing become so adversarial?

5 Responses

  1. Gradually over the last 20 years or so, as more and more responsibilities have been plied on conveyancers. More hoops to jump through and boxes to tick. Get anything wrong and your PII goes up and/or you come off the lenders panel. Hence a much more cautious (and as a result adversarial) approach.

  2. When did conveyancing become so adversarial?

    That’s easy,

    It became adversarial after ever more practioners became angry/disgruntled/disillusioned <insert adjective of choice.

    When a job gets cheapened, and disrespected, there begins a cycle.

    It ultimately creates what exists now

    Miserable practioners being grumpy because they're in a miserable job. The level of service drops further, leading to more devaluing and disrespect, which ups the grumpiness.

    Round and round.

    All the while cheapening (in more than one sense) the perception of the position itself.

    Ed Mead writes today about a move to see conveyancing paid anything only on completion, and nothing if a sale falls through.

    This would be a good step. Towards achieving happier conveyancers.

  3. Gradually over the last 20 years or so, as more and more responsibilities have been plied on conveyancers. More hoops to jump through and boxes to tick. Get anything wrong and your PII goes up and/or you come off the lenders panel. Hence a much more cautious (and as a result adversarial) approach.

  4. It has been adversarial for such a long time now, there is no respect for each other. There are many firms out there who breed that type of conveyancer, we are the best there is, I heard one manager say to the team, clearly they had issues and so many inexperienced conveyancers. I had a case recently when the other side literally shouted down the phone “when did this become contentious?” I said it hadn’t I am just chasing her (for the fourth time btw) for the service charge info. She was clearly finding it a difficult transaction, I tried to call her a few times to discuss, no chance she wouldn’t speak with me and I was directed to email all the time! It’s a minefield out there now, it’s a service industry and the service should be to the client first and foremost but let’s face it the pressure comes from the agent and we are an easy target, things get whipped up by agents and clients then question and lawyer client relationship can become difficult as they see can see us as the ones holding things back when actually we are trying to do our jobs. Like I said a minefield now, more than it was 30 years ago I can tell you

  5. In no particular order …
    Referral fees are not in clients’ best interests as the conveyancing usually gets carried out by volume bucket shop giants who employ unqualified juniors overseen by one overstretched solicitor. The agents then act like they are gods who must be obeyed and should you not be able to take their daily call they will then whip the client into a frenzy …

    Completion targets with or without bonuses increase risk of matters being overlooked or ignored.

    Source of funds – surely this should be the bank’s responsibility? It’s beyond a joke that conveyancers have to pay for this/spend hours looking at bank statements or face risk of going to prison.

    Flooding, Japanese knotweed etc – you write, you warn but the client does not read or listen and the agents certainly do not want them because of the risk of an adverse survey. Surveys should be compulsory, paid for by the seller and stored electronically.

    Having to obtain copy FENSA, building reg certificates, planning permissions etc is time consuming and each conveyancer has a different approach to producing or requesting copy documents. Why can’t we just have one simple rule and the seller’s solicitor produces draft contract papers with ALL docs rather than buyer’s solicitor sifting through the protocol firms and raising enquiries. Given that we have protocol docs readily available to all agents, surely these docs can be obtained during marketing of the property? Here’s a novel idea… instruct your local solicitor prior to marketing!!!

    Fixed fees … scramble to the bottom. Since when has a leasehold transaction been simple? Let’s value the work of conveyancers and introduce hourly fees.

    Inadequate cover for holidays because everyone’s capacity is already past breaking point.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 5,000 other practitioners – sign up to our free newsletter

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.