Diary of a high street conveyancer; 18th July 2022

Diary of a high street conveyancer; 18th July 2022

There has been more chatter on LinkedIn this week about additional enquiries. There were also postings about why it takes so long for a house sale to complete, and as we all know, additional enquiries are only a small part of that but seem to be the part where everyone feels it is acceptable to blame others for either not responding properly or for asking enquiries which are not needed.   

Firms are still asking to sellers’ solicitor to confirm that identity of the seller has been verified, notwithstanding the Code for  Completion; firms are still asking for copy FENSA certificates, when, as competent persons’ certificates, these are not needed; and all of this just leads to sellers and buyers becoming more frustrated and becoming abusive towards their solicitors. This is not acceptable.

However, I have to say that there are times when I receive a Memorandum of Sale, and look at the firm acting for the seller and feel a sense of dread. It is then difficult to know how to approach it with my client – should I be honest about the seller’s lawyer and explain to my buying client that the firm always send the same enquiries which are outside of the scope of the Protocol? or should I not say anything? Should I tell my client that it is going to take a lot longer than if the seller had appointed a local firm? Or should I say nothing? and if I do decide to tell my client, I need to be careful how I word it. We all know the firms I mean … .

One transaction this week was very difficult on completion. I can normally get people moved by lunch time and can then move onto the next transaction but we know that if monies are delayed,  clients become stressed and need reassurance, removal firms get tetchy, and then it can take a whole afternoon to keep things on course, whilst crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. This happened to me this week  –  elderly client moving on one of the hottest days of the year and she was third in the chain, moving into an empty property. It should have been straightforward but what I had not realised was that the first time buyers’  lawyer had requested mortgage monies the day before completion and there was no guarantee that they would arrive, and this was even when we had exchanged contracts three weeks ago. No monies coming up the chain – what do you do? You reassure your client that it will be ok whilst silently praying and crossing your fingers and hoping that it will be ok, and updating the sellers’ solicitor so that if we have to enter into some form of Licence to Occupy, then everything is ready. Three o’clock came and went and no monies had arrived. Four o’clock and I was told that the mortgage monies had arrived and we would be moving. But we still had to wait for the monies to come through to us and they eventually arrived, after my elderly client took a turn for the worse due to the heat and the stress. It is not acceptable that clients are put in that position. It is hard for us solicitors to keep people calm when such delays are beyond our control.

So think about the above scenario when you receive the Memorandum of Sale – are you going to tell the client that it could be a difficult transaction right up to the point of them receiving the keys? Or are you going to let them find out the hard way?


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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  • 1. Enquiries outside the scope of the protocol, report them for breaching the CQS.

    2. Agents should always provide a chain sheet so we know which firms are likely to hold things up and which ones will work efficiently.

  • I simply cannot understand why CQS firms are still putting ‘funny’ clauses in the special conditions and raising ridiculous enquiries. We’ve had these CQS protocols long enough for these not to become a problem. Why are the managers/partners/directors not listening and not putting memo’s down to the fee earner’s? Unfortunately, it seems that CLC firms are not bound by the same protocols and it would be good for the CLC to do so. Without naming names but one of the biggest factory firms out there are particularly bad for this. Who still get’s enquiries about ID and Mishcon De Reya?

    For completions, I do think most are on top of now ensuring that they have funds in the day before, I would be surprised if this wasn’t going on. I am more concerned at the ‘admin’ side to send money. To send money can involve having TT’s ‘signed off’ by numerous people (I worked in a firm where it needed 3/4 signatures before). Whilst I can appreciate that checks are required to avoid sending a lot of money to the wrong place, there seems to be little urgency about it as the people signing things off are not client facing. Further, with far too many in this industry still working from home, it needs to filter through various systems firsts.

    It seems that too many firms do not have their completions set up in advance and do not have any appreciation of their own clients (let along the rest of the chains) needs on the day of completion. After all, Conveyancers, the completion day provides the lasting impression of the firm.

    On a side issue, I am seeing more and more completion’s taking place with less than 5 working days between exchange and completion, perhaps that does not help? Perhaps we need to give clients and firms more time to organise themselves and extend the gap?
    However, I am sure that those firm’s with an ‘expedition fee’ in place will be delighted with their account at the end.

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