Leading conveyancing organisations have disagreed with Tory MP Bob Neill after he claimed in parliament that property transactions will be disrupted by the lockdown because many people will not be able to meet solicitors in person to sign documents.
Neill refused to back the government’s latest Coronavirus lockdown bill because he said it was poorly drafted, giving the problem with conveyancers as an example.
“People are allowed to go to an estate agent, but they cannot go to a solicitor,” he said. “But the documentation that people will need to get a mortgage and to move house will frequently need to be witnessed in person by a solicitor.”
We put his points to both the industry’s key trade bodies.
The Conveyancing Association says that as long as conveyancers operate in a Covid-secure manner it should be ‘business as usual’, pointing out that conveyancers can work from their office if necessary and meet client face-to-face for such purposes as ID verification and execution of documents.
A Law Society spokesperson says: “There are many aspects of a conveyancing transaction that can be dealt with remotely or virtually.
“But some clients lack the confidence or technology to engage remotely or virtually with their solicitor and there are some procedures where lenders or others require that clients are seen in person.
“Many aspects of identification can be carried out remotely although more investigations need to be made when there is no face-to-face interaction.
“HM Land Registry is now accepting witnessed electronic signatures and is working hard to further develop their requirements so that more conveyancers can use these methods of execution.”
Leading conveyancer says
David Jabbari (left), CEO of industry conveyancing firm Muve, says any claim that face to face meetings between solicitors and their clients is essential to home moves is incorrect.
“For most of the higher volume providers of conveyancing who use modern systems, they will not see their clients at all during the transaction.
“The bottom line is that conveyancing is already a digital and virtual industry.”