Paul Walton – head of Professional Negligence – discusses the main reasons why he has seen a noticeable increase in claims against solicitors on conveyancing & property matters.

Delay, Delay, Delay
This is a major reason why solicitors cause problems to their clients.

Making errors on Registration of Title
These can be errors in description of the property or by use of wrong or inaccurate plans.

Failing to identify precisely what the client is purchasing
Failing to advise the client clearly as to what is being purchased (which may not be the same as what the client thinks he/she is purchasing).

Failure to notice inconsistencies in plans
New plans can be commissioned which sometimes are inconsistent with each other. They may also be inconsistent with plans on earlier Conveyances or Transfers. Failure to notice the inconsistency and resolve prior to purchase/lease can cause immense problems for the clients and disputes with adjoining owners.

Failure to notice and advise clients as to Rights of Way over property to be purchased
A purchaser’s use and  enjoyment of a house or garden can be seriously undermined if others have a right of way over the land, by foot or by vehicle.

Failure to make Local Searches

Failure to note and advise accurately on the contents of Local Searches, particularly in relation to restrictions as to use, planning permissions, etc.

Acting for clients taking on a Lease but failing to note true extent of Covenant to Repair.
If client is taking an Under Lease, he/she can sometimes be saddled with an obligation to reinstate to the level appropriate at the time of the Head Lease rather than the time of the Under Lease. This can have immense financial implications for the client.

Failure to act carefully for clients taking out a mortgage.
There have been incidents where clients have inadvertently mortgaged an entire landholding when the intention was to grant a mortgage on only a portion of the land.

Joint Tenants.
Most couples purchase property as Beneficial Joint Tenants (in relation to the proceeds of sale). If they choose to alter the interest of each in relation to the proceeds, the Solicitor is under a duty to advise them that there is a potential for conflict of interest. Therefore, he cannot continue to advise both of the Joint Tenants but should identify the conflict and indicate that one or both of them needs to seek separate advice. Failure to do so can cause a kick-back against the Solicitor when one of the Joint Tenants decides that he/she is unhappy with the variation in the shareholding.

Failure to register Options to Purchase, etc.
The benefit of the Option is thus lost.

If you would like to speak to Paul about this issue, please contact him via this link.

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