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Solicitor Negligence in Property Purchases

Solicitor Negligence in Property Purchases

Expert view

We are told by the experts that the housing market is settling down after Brexit and that mortgage approvals will begin to steadily pick up in the months ahead.

Most of us will have used either a conveyancer or a solicitor when buying or selling a property. So it’s not surprising that I see many claims against solicitors who work in the conveyancing market.

If you think you’ve received negligent advice from a property conveyancer or solicitor, you don’t have to accept it. Call us now 0117 926 4121 or contact us online and we will help you.

What can go wrong?

Believe it or not there are so many ways in which the conduct of a conveyancer can give rise to a claim. In my experience, common mistakes made by property solicitors include:

  1. Not telling the purchaser something important about problematic replies to their enquires or issues with search results    

  2. Not establishing that the seller has good title to all the land being sold before exchanging contracts

  3. Arranging for the exchange of contracts without authority or their client’s instructions

  4. Failing to advise fully on how the property will be held between joint owners after the registration of the purchase

  5. Not reporting to the buyer the existence of adverse restrictions on the title which places limitations on use of the land or further development

  6. Failing to report to a purchaser the absence of rights of way to access the property

  7. Not advising a purchaser on the existence of rights of way enjoyed by other parties over the property being bought  

These are only a few of the many problems you could have encountered because of a negligent conveyancing solicitor. But if your problem is not listed here, that doesn’t mean your solicitor was not negligent.

Call us now on 0117 926 4121 or contact us online as we can tell you quickly if your conveyancer was negligent.

What can you do?

This really depends when you notice there is a problem. If you discover an issue before you exchange of contracts, there is no requirement for you to go through with the transaction and you can simply walk away.

If you find out the advice you’ve been given is negligent after you’ve exchanged contracts, it’s much harder to solve these issues during the course of the conveyancing process itself.

There are legal processes which allow a contract to be reversed and for the buyer and purchaser to be relieved from any legal requirement to go ahead and for all deposits to be returned. But in the situation where the problem has happened because of solicitor or conveyancer negligence rather than either the buyer or seller, this is very unlikely.

Usually, the most common approach would be for you to claim for breach of contract and make a negligence claim against the conveyancer, seeking financial damages.  

How Long will a Claim Take?

Firstly, we would send a letter of claim outlining what went wrong in the conveyancing process to your conveyancing solicitor.

They, or probably their insurance company, will reply to the letter. They will either accept the claim and offer you compensation or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, we will probably have to issue Court proceedings. This means we complete the necessary paperwork and lodge it with the court.

Once this is done, we would serve them on the negligent conveyancing solicitor. Everyone involved in the claim then has to work to a timetable imposed by the Court. This includes exchanging documents, witness and expert evidence and finally the trial.

Don’t worry though – just because we issue Court proceedings, this does not mean you will have to go to court. The vast majority of cases settle without going trial. This happens either by negotiation and exchange of settlement offers or more often at a mediation hearing attended by the parties and their representatives.

How much money could I receive?

This depends on how much you've overpaid for the property now the problems with it have been revealed. A surveyor will value the property with all the necessary information and provide us with a figure.

There is a good chance you will recover some money if you have a good claim as all law firms in England and Wales have to carry a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance of at least £2million.

Professional indemnity insurance is required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who regulates solicitors and law firms in England and Wales. This means the law firm is covered by insurance if they make a mistake.

How do I know if I have a claim?

It can be difficult to know if you’ve just had very bad service from a conveyancing solicitor or if their advice or action has been negligent. But we can tell you quickly if you have a claim. Call us now on 0117 926 4121 or contact us online and we can help you.

To prove negligence, you have to show that your conveyancer acted below the standard that any reasonably competent conveyancer would have and that you've suffered a financial loss as a result.

How much will it cost to make a claim?

There are many ways to fund a professional negligence claim against a conveyancer or solicitor, including a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. We will discuss which method is best for you.

We offer a free initial discussion either on the phone or face to face at our Bristol office.

We can quickly tell you if you have a claim, and then we can discuss the best way of taking your claim forward.

Call us now on 0117 926 4121 or make a Free Online Enquiry.