Diary of a high street conveyancer; 9th May 2022

It is interesting that, as we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, I have just had one of the worst weeks. I cannot say specifically what was so bad about the week; it was just a culmination of things which led to a feeling of despair on Friday and a “I don’t think I can do this anymore”. The issue of additional enquiries rumbles on, and that is tricky to deal with. It goes something like this:

  1. The buyer’s solicitor will tell the agent that there is one enquiry outstanding
  2. I say that the enquiry relates to a request for a copy FENSA certificate, which I do not need to provide
  3. The estate agents tell my client I am being unhelpful
  4. The client asks me why I am being unhelpful
  5. I tell said client that I am being asked to provide something which is not necessary
  6. Said client tells me just to get a copy of the certificate as he wants to move next week
  7. I explain that it will probably take longer than a week to get the certificate
  8. Client asks me why I didn’t order it when I was asked for it
  9. I explain that it is not needed

I am sure that many conveyancers experience this – and we are torn. Torn between getting a copy so that we keep everyone happy, yet knowing that it is not needed and is wasting time and money. Times that conversation by twenty, and I think we know the type of week it has been!

Without wishing to be controversial, we know that many of these unnecessary enquiries come from firms which are not CQS-accredited and are not, therefore, obliged to follow the Protocol. We end up in a stand-off to see who will give in first, and guess what? The computer wins – we cannot get past the query as it is not a person dealing with the query at the other end, but artificial intelligence with a computer which has no option but to say “no” and throw an unnecessary query back at us.

It is hard work, and it is mentally draining. So in this week, when we are meant to be more aware of mental health, think about the person at the other end of the telephone in the other conveyancing firm – they could have just been battling the computer before speaking with you. Be kind.

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. Interesting. How many firms are there which offer conveyancing but are not either CQS-accredited (and I understand that this accreditation is designed for firms that are regulated by the SRA) or CLC regulated (in which case the Conveyancing Association Protocol is adopted)? The CA Protocol also advises against requesting unnecessary documentation.

  2. I am, thank God, now retired from conveyancing, but it was this sort of rubbish that turned what used to be a civilised profession 30 years ago into one of the most tedious and frustrating jobs known to man.

    The problems originally arose with excessive price competition, which started a race to the bottom. The result was that solicitors and experienced conveyancers became too expensive, so secretaries suddenly became `conveyancing clerks’. They didn’t (and probably still don’t) have a clue about property law, and in those days just followed checklists – nowadays called case management systems, but just as dumb.

    The CQS merely made a bad situation far worse, substituting stupid, mechanical processes for skilled work, driving small but good firms out of conveyancing, and letting the conveyancing factories take over. It destroyed small firms’ ability to compete, as the lenders made the senseless decision to restrict panel membership to CQS firms, even though all that CQS has ever meant is that the relevant firms were good at ticking boxes.

    I feel genuinely sorry for people who are still stuck in this dreadful job, and that what used to be an enjoyable and satisfying profession has been turned into poorly paid drudgery.

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