Over the weekend, the Conveyancing Association held a meeting with its members, where Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Director, Crispin Passmore addressed the key issues in conveyancing, detailing the steps they are making to relieve burdens for law firms and reform regulations in the industry.
Passmore stressed this won’t be a major transformation, and the SRA will not be adding to the rules already in place. Regulations are set to be simplified in order to reduce time and money spent on compliance, paying particular attention to smaller firms.
No matter the state of the housing market, conveyancing is still seen as a risky business by consumers. Removing unnecessary burdens and making indemnity insurance more proportionate will allow law firms to focus efforts on building relationships with clients and put in place the required systems to help combat threats to their business.
The level of claims being generated from residential conveyancing and, also, to some extent commercial conveyancing and property transactions, has been a significant issue for the profession because, whilst not all solicitors undertake conveyancing work, the whole profession pays through the Compensation Fund and also takes the impact on the general level of indemnity insurance fees. Passmore stated.
The SRA carried out research in 2012, which related to the repercussions of the economic crisis in 2007. From the firms questioned, 40% were forced to downsize and reduce costs, following the slump in the housing market — the majority also having fewer clients as a result. Passmore says this became a major concern for the SRA, as clients weren’t protected from the effects of the collapsing businesses. Though there has been a rise in the amount of property transactions, failing law firms still remain a concern in certain regions.
Fraud and money laundering were the main focus of Passmore’s speech. He has urged conveyancers to be aware of the risk factors and be vigilant when protecting their businesses. Carrying out sufficient employee and client checks, as well as having the correct systems in place are important steps to take, and the SRA are planning on working closely with firms to achieve best practice across the board.
For more information and for guidance on supervision and enforcement within conveyancing, visit the SRA website.