Loquitur per linguam alienam

October 1st, 2015 – Montreal, Canada. Close-up of a A, the 1st Letter of the Latin Alphabet into a Old Pronunciation Dictionary

Loquitur per linguam alienam

I have spent the last few days thinking about what we do and how we do it.

Conveyancing is not glamourous – to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I wore a suit to work! Conveyancing is not sexy; in fact, conveyancing is hard work, and one of the things that the recent SDLT holiday has shown is that it is very hard work and it can be relentless.

Many conveyancers I know (myself included) were working late into the night over the last few months and were subject to abuse that should not be tolerated. A client saving money on a house move is clearly going to be stressed. It may be the case that they cannot move at all if they do not have the additional funds available to cover the SDLT payment, but this is not the conveyancer’s fault.

However, it is our responsibility to manage client expectations and to be sure that the client is aware that the extra payment may be due despite our best intentions to get the job done quickly.

What also fascinates me is the language surrounding what we do.

I am in awe of medical professionals who have their own language (some of which we are familiar with from TV programmes such as Call of Duty and Casualty) but I suppose that many clients simply don’t understand the language we use.

I would never dream of using Latin phrases when talking to a client, but between ourselves, it is common to use such phrases as ‘inter alia’. And you only have to think about how many times we have to explain the difference between exchange of contracts and completion to appreciate that the public do not know what these phrases, which we use everyday without a second thought, mean.

What does make me laugh (probably because I dislike it intensely!) is when other conveyancers use words such as ‘sim’ and ‘asap’ , as if these are accepted words, and there are times when this “text speak” forces me to stop and think what it is I am being told in its abbreviated form. Thank goodness for Google!

And thinking about our clients… buying a house is a minefield. It needs to be clear to the public who may have never entered this world before and even if they have, quite probably a very long time ago, what it is they are paying for when they engage our services. We must talk in plain language – try and explain the phrases and terminology. We must not shroud our profession in mystery. These are people’s lives and they need to understand what is happening and what words and phrases mean… it all helps with managing expectations and keeping client’s in the loop with progress.

At the end of the day we play a huge part in the home-moving process… without us it simply wouldn’t happen and we must make sure we truly communicate the value of what we do for our client, not leave them drowning in terminology.


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 Comment

  • How do you explain credibly to a client that professions which have had the benefit of restrictive trade practices going back to 1804 have not yet devised a system guaranteeing delivery dates as a quid pro quo?

    This is a failure of service – not just presentation

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