I’m writing this on the longest day of the year – the Summer Solstice –…
The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today (25th April 2018) revealed the third edition of its Conveyancing Protocol.
The Protocol, initially launched in 2013 and updated in 2016, is the result of Association members, panel management companies, and stakeholders working together to produce a document that outlines best practice, and delivers a robust and efficient conveyancing service through co-operation.
It collates guidance from the Law Society, Legal Ombudsman, UK Finance and case law to provide conveyancers with a single point of reference for this best practice.
The Protocol provides Best Practice Guidance for all member firms which cover off potential issues in the conveyancing process such as: delays in the transaction (from initial communication through to avoiding delays on completion); additional enquires (from avoiding unnecessary ones to preventing last-minute ones); technical issues (dealing with extensions and alterations through to restrictive covenants and short leases); plus there are specific sections on dealing with leasehold cases and how to ensure the highest standards in order to avoid fraudulent activity taking place.
Following a consultative work programme, a number of significant additions and amendments have been made to the Protocol covering:
- Delays in the transaction: sending of bank details to the client by post to avoid interception by fraudsters; inclusion and acceptance of GDPR requirements to ensure information can be shared with all parties; use of electronic anti-money laundering check; a new section on Pre-Sale Preparation covering what should be included; commitment to issue a contract pack at the earliest opportunity and what this should include; a new section on leasehold enquiries and a commitment to securing a signed contract as soon as possible.
- Also, to avoid delays to the transaction, firms can use the CA’s Conveyancer’s Code for Completion to enable funds to be transmitted the day before completion.
- Additional enquiries: a commitment to limit all additional enquiries to those relating to title or those required by the client; and a new section on Proportion of Retentions – firms will be able to appropriately rely upon the provisions within the Standard Conditions of Sale.
- Technical issues: new advice and recommendations on dealing with planning permissions and building regulations; new information on restrictive covenants both pre- and post-1925 documents which contain them; and detail on short leases, their potential impact and communicating these to the client.
- Communication with lenders: updated information on minimising post-valuation queries and ensuring that Certificates of Title are dealt with quickly.
- Leasehold: updated information on how conveyancers should deal with applications for information or consent, deed of covenant, and rent review clauses.
- Fraud avoidance: a commitment to implement the CA’s Cyberfraud & Fraud Protocol – a new version of which was introduced last week; measures to identify high-risk property and to protect the proceeds from the sale.
The Conveyancing Association fully endorses the principles that underpin this third edition of the Protocol but recognises each transaction must be judged on its own merits. In some cases established working practices, system limitations and the instructions of a client or lender may prevent the adoption of the Protocol in full. Within these acknowledged limitations the CA commends the adoption of the protocol to its members as an opportunity to improve client satisfaction, shorten transaction times and to provide a valuable training tool for their conveyancing teams.
The third edition of the CA’s Technical Protocol can be downloaded by visiting the CA website: conassocstage.wpengine.com/campaigns/the-protocol/
Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:
“Developments in our sector, improvements in technology, greater understanding of different property transactions, all mean that our Technical Protocol requires constant review and it is vitally important that we update it regularly to ensure it’s fit for purpose and provides our members with new information and best practice options.
“This process of review has been our most comprehensive to date, and I would personally like to thank all those stakeholders who have engaged with us on the new version and have provided feedback and advice. Given the number of developments and the changes to the conveyancing process we have seen since 2016 we have made some significant amendments and updates, focusing particularly on areas like leasehold – much in the spotlight over the last 12-18 months – but also fraud prevention because, as high-profile cases show, there is still a large threat that can leave clients out of pocket to the tune of many thousands of pounds.
“While the Protocol is not compulsory for CA members to adopt, it has always been readily supported by firms as they appreciate it has the potential to improve the conveyancing process for all, particularly in cutting out unnecessary delays, enquiries and any other issues which can hold up the process. We will continue to review the Protocol as it is our stated aim to deliver better communication, higher service levels , reduced transaction times and facilitate better relationships within the conveyancing community to the benefit of all.”