No COLP for vendors' conveyancer poses exchange risk?

No COLP for vendors' conveyancer poses exchange risk?

We reported earlier in the week that the SRA would soon be starting a “proportionate response” for firms without COLPs and COFAs in place.  This proportionate response will include revoking licences to practice.

Whilst more than 8,000 firms have now had their nominations for the key roles of COLPs and COFAs approved there are still around 250 firms that have failed to complete the process.

Executive Director, SRA, Samantha Barrass, who has overall responsibility for the approvals process, said: "It is disappointing, that while the vast majority of firms have met their regulatory requirements and completed the process, as required, there is still a number who have not.

"These firms have no foreseeable prospect of COLPs and COFAs in place, either on, or shortly after 1 January, and will be in breach of their licence conditions or practising regulations on that date.

"Where firms have not co-operated with us, we will take action to revoke their authorisation.”

But what happens if you are carrying out a transaction and the other side are one of the 250?  You may already have exchanged with them.

Is there a risk their licence be revoked mid-transaction?

Without a central list how can firms be sure the undertakings given by the solicitor will be ok?  Many more firms have also made their applications but not been notified of the outcome.

We asked the Law Society whether they felt there could be a risk, a Law Society spokesperson said: “We have encouraged the SRA to make every effort to support firms in becoming fully compliant and welcome their flexible approach.

"However, the initial deadline for nominations is long past. While COLPs and COFAs are new roles, solicitors have a responsibility to comply with their regulatory requirements.”

The implementation of COLP and COFA deadline does not appear to be very outcome focused when it comes to the conveyancing process.  Without a list of COLPs and COFAs how can conveyancers know that they other side is good for their undertaking?

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