I was going to treat you to the opening scene of my new drama series The Move, but as I am mindful of always being topical, I am saving that pleasure for another time. Instead I want to talk about Additional Enquiries.
This is a topic I have written about before. One of my pet hates is receiving pages and pages of standard enquiries which are not property specific. I have seen posts about this topic on Linkedin over the last few days and did want to mention it as I am sure that it is one of the main irritants of many conveyancing solicitors and frustrates clients and leads to delays.
One post I saw set out queries from a firm and they are queries that I have seen many times – in fact, I have a standard response to all such queries; whereas as CQS accredited firms, we have to comply with the provisions of the Protocol (and in particular , Step 15 of the Protocol states that we do not need to answer any inappropriate enquiries and do not need to obtain the seller’s answer to any enquiry which seeks opinion rather than fact), those firms which are not CQS accredited do not have to follow the provisions of the Protocol, although many do. However, if my guess as to the identity of the firm is correct, then the firm is not SRA regulated and is not a member of the CQS community. So who can we report the firm to? How can we stop the standard unnecessary enquiries which ask us about the land around the property? I almost feel as if I should call of those who are continually irritated by these questions to make a stand and not answer such queries, but, having tried that before, I believe that the responses may in fact not be checked by a human but form part of a conveyancing AI process. And by not answering the questions, it is our client who suffers a delay. So that leaves us all answering unnecessary queries and perpetuating the situation, meaning that the queries will continue to be asked and we will have to answer them, however irrelevant they are.
I don’t raise unnecessary queries – I had a transaction recently where I had no queries… I wrote to the sellers’ solicitor, sending the Transfer deed and Requisitions on title, and I mentioned that I had no queries and was surprised to receive a response asking me to ask queries and in particular, asking me why I did not intend to ask whether the seller’s solicitor was able to verify identity, or whether the covenants have been complied with (there were none in the title). And then the estate agents got involved and told my client I had no queries (even though the client already knew that as I had sent them a full and detailed report on the documents) which led to the client asking me why I was not asking questions about identity, etc. With this in mind, what is the answer? We need to work together and stop indulging the firms which raise all these unnecessary queries, but not sure yet how we can do it!
Now, back to writing the opening scenes of my BBC blockbuster series, The Move …
This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.