Diary of a high street conveyancer: 5th December 2022

Last week again produced many memorable moments in conveyancing land, but nothing beats the email you receive that was not meant for you… I am sure you have all received at least one.

Emails annoy me – but I accept that they are a necessary irritant. In the past, I would have complained about the number of telephone calls received on a daily basis and how there were days when I did not get a chance to call everyone back or perhaps speak with the one client I really needed to speak with.

If I had to describe how emails make me feel, I would say that it is as if someone is standing on the other side of my desk throwing pieces of paper at me continuously, demanding instant answers.

However, I read an article this week which said, when writing an email, always think about the recipient and others who may read it. That email quickly sent to the buyers’ solicitor will probably be sent to the buyer – think about how the buyer will interpret it.

We also need to remember that, if things go very wrong, then a judge may read the emails and perhaps give an interpretation to them which we had not intended or expected.

There is an estate agency in my town where they copy in all the other parties – there can be up to 10 or more open recipients, and maybe even more who are blind copied in.

I refuse to get drawn into these emails and make it clear that I do not want to be involved in such email chains because it is likely at some point that there will be some form of disagreement or accusation and it will not help the poor client who just wants to move house.

This week, I received what appeared to be a general email providing me with some information about the transaction from the seller’s solicitor. I was discussing the response with my client, typing the reply while I was talking to her and agreeing what to write.

For some reason, I scrolled down only to find a chain of emails between the seller and her solicitor. The seller had been putting my client under some pressure to complete quickly even though we were not ready – still waiting on a leasehold information pack – and it was clear that the seller thought I was the one responsible for the hold up.

What was disappointing was that her solicitor had not done anything to make the position clear. The leasehold information pack is needed: it was not me being difficult and that would have been quite a simple thing to point out. But no!

The seller continued under the misapprehension that I was the one who was insisting on it and the seller’s mate in the pub (because all clients have that one mate!) said it was not needed.

There were also some accusations regarding me deliberately delaying the transaction and how I didn’t know what I was doing but, however hard that is to read, us conveyancers have grown thick skins over the last three years!

By not having checked the email chain, all of those uncertainties my client had about how her seller was treating her seemed to become true. She trusted her seller even less now, and I was just thankful that my client is a long-standing client of mine and knew to trust me. It could have caused all manner of issues.

So check that email trail – it is so easy to copy someone into an email chain and write your latest email without knowing what may be lurking below.

And what did I do? Well, what would you do? Would you tell the other solicitor that you had seen the trail? Would you tell the other solicitor that the seller’s opinion of you was unfounded? Or would you not mention it?

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

2 Responses

  1. I had the same experience; the rest of the email train from the solicitor to their client was blaming me for the delay, (wasn’t my fault) and pointing out that if I had the amount of work she had then I would definitely not cope. This all from someone who had just had 2 weeks off at Christmas, I had 3 days!

  2. Absolutely you should ask the other solicitor to correct the record. It is their failure to properly set and manage expectations

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