Does a recent court decision mean a big shake up for conveyancing?

Does a recent court decision mean a big shake up for conveyancing?

Earlier this year I was writing about possible plans to change the law to prevent gazumping. If you recall the suggested change would mean bringing forward the point at which a house sale/purchase is legally binding for both parties.

Now a recent Court of Appeal decision in respect of two cases about property fraud could mean radical reform of other areas of the UK’s conveyancing procedure.

The two cases of property fraud

The two cases were brought by property developers who had been defrauded in 2013/14 by individuals who had posed as vendors of property that they didn’t in fact own.  In short, the Court of Appeal found the vendors’ solicitors liable for losses caused to the property buyers by the fraudsters, even where those advisers were not negligent.

In the first case, the fraudster claimed to live in Dubai, and the documents all came from Dubai, even though the property was in the UK.  The fraudster’s solicitors conducted the standard Anti-Money-Laundering checks which came back as ‘referred’ but the solicitors accounted for this by the fact that the client lived in Dubai.

In the second case, the seller’s solicitors admitted that they had not performed the necessary checks on their client.

Both sets of purchasers had relied on the professionals involved amongst other things to ensure that what they paid for is what they received.

Court of Appeal decision

Housing reformIn the first case, the Court of Appeal found the solicitors for the fraudster were liable and in the second case, the solicitors for the purchaser and the vendor were found liable for a breach of trust, despite the absence of any negligence on their part. The Court of Appeal added that it is the vendor’s solicitors who are in the best position to carry out appropriate checks and the purchaser’s solicitors may be reliant on them to do so.

What does this mean for us, Joe Public?

The cases were both complicated by a number of factors, but the fact remains that the Court of Appeal decision may now lead to substantial reform of our conveyancing procedures.

Both solicitors were criticised for their poor standard of identity checks and the decision underlined just how responsible and liable solicitors for a vendor are when it comes to checking their client’s identity – as opposed to the responsibility falling to the purchaser’s solicitor.

From a buyer’s perspective, the result is good news as it affords them greater protection. But at what price? Professional negligence insurance premiums will undoubtedly rise to reflect the risk.

Professional advisors will now also need to review their policies and procedures and put in place robust anti-fraud and identity check procedures but will the cost of all this just be passed on to the client? Will the whole process just grind to a halt as exhaustive checks are carried out or will solicitors just refuse to act if they’re even the slightest bit worried?

Perhaps the government will now intervene at last in a conveyancing system that is struggling under the strain and has long since been in need of a radical overhaul. Whether it’s further case law or legislation that next shapes the conveyancing landscape remains to be seen and as always, I’ll be keeping a watching brief. But surely with pressure continuing to build, reform must be within the foreseeable future.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

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Thinking of making changes to your home?

Thinking of making changes to your home?

Because your future home could be very different!

Look around your home for a moment and think about how much has changed since you were a child.

home decor For those of us that are old enough, it doesn’t seem long ago that there was no such thing as a family computer or laptop! Really.

Instead, there was a free-standing TV in the corner, a telephone on a lead (often on its own table) and if you were lucky, a record or cassette player. The garden shed contained … mowers and garden tools! Not a man cave or an outside office.

If you think back a bit further, duvets were an exciting innovation that replaced sheets and blankets, central heating and double glazing were not guaranteed and for the really mature amongst us, you might have had to go outside to the WC!

Out with the old, in with the new

Things have certainly changed and on the whole, they’ve changed for the better. And Anglian Home Improvements recently did some research into how we think our homes will evolve even more in the foreseeable future.

The research unsurprisingly revealed that working from home is having a big impact and is likely to change how we use our homes and our space. At present, the majority of us don’t have our own office space even though ever increasing numbers of us spend at least some of our working week at home.

home technology 35% of those surveyed also aspire to underfloor heating and reassuringly, 29% want their homes to be more energy efficient.  Entertaining, cooking and relaxing spaces were also important considerations for those planning their homes and 50% want technologically smarter homes.

AXA Insurance have also been doing some research into what people want from their homes in the future. Again, unsurprisingly, technology ranked highly, with 27% believing we’ll all have smart TV screens in our homes to use instead of phones to contact our friends in the next 10 years.

Charging points for electric cars was another big hitter as was the belief that cars will be driverless in the foreseeable future.

Moveable space to suit your needs

With advances in artificial intelligence, my view is that the wish lists of those that took part in the surveys are actually remarkably modest.

Smart fridges and robotic hoovers are already a reality and many of us are also already controlling our heating, lights or security from our phone. Smart technology combined with a continued squeeze on space, means it’s not difficult to imagine how one room could soon become a central hub for all of a householder’s requirements (cooking, eating, entertaining and working) with smart worktops that can weigh, measure, stir and cook, and then convert into a table with in-built entertainment or a desk and a smart screen.

In fact, it’s perfectly feasible that walls and ceilings will be moveable soon too so that you can reconfigure your space throughout the day to suit your needs. And with that in mind, you have to wonder whether home decoration will soon become 3D and virtual, allowing you to change the colour of your walls at the flick of a switch (or rather, by using voice-activated technology)!

Of course with technology making such massive advances, design was always going to try and keep up! Ikea has already launched their “charging furniture” which includes tables and lamps which have integrated wireless charging points.

Other smart furniture is also already available (if currently a little expensive) including a sofa with integrated sound system and speakers, a fully interactive coffee table with integrated fridge, an intelligent mattress for sleep monitoring and anti snoring, and tables that talk!

The new Granny flat

One of the areas the AXA and Anglian Home reports didn’t touch on was the need or desire for multi-generational living, with independent Granny accommodation integrated under one roof. Of course, this is less of an innovation and more of a revival of how things used to be but it will be interesting to see if and how architects and designers incorporate this increasing necessity into our modern homes!

There’s no doubt that the need to create millions of more homes out of increasingly scarce space will result in exciting innovations that we’ve yet to imagine. Necessity can be a formidable driving force and I for one, am looking forward to my home being able to cook my dinner and tidy afterwards for me!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com