Property remains by far and away the work type that attracts the most claims against solicitors. Over the last few years, property claims represent around 40% of all claims, although this peaked at 60% in 2010.
Due to the high level of claims, it is no surprise then that . Accreditation such as Lexcel and CQS will be viewed positively, but the single biggest factor is that risk management cannot just be a tick-box exercise; it has to be engrained within the culture of the firm.
Strong case management processes and procedures, case supervision and checklists are all important and with PII renewal on the horizon, it may be timely to let underwriters know how you manage various risks in the conveyancing process.
There are many ways to help reduce the level of risk associated with conveyancing transactions. Here are five:
1. Use Lawyer Checker – With fraudsters going to elaborate lengths to impersonate credible law firms, it’s never been more difficult to separate the genuine law firms from the bogus ones. Using a tool such as Lawyer Checker to help identify if the bank account you’re sending client monies to is legitimate would be looked upon favourably by insurance firms who want assurances that you’re taking your due diligence responsibilities seriously and not leaving it to chance.
2. Use JET Convey – Working on behalf of lenders generates the most claims against conveyancers, so ensure that you meet your CML handbook part II requirements easily by answering a series of quick questions with each case in JET convey – no need to look the part IIs up manually.
3. Archive previous cases & searches online – Keeping a back-up of previous searches and cases that can be retrieved on request will give you a paper trail when the auditors come calling and demonstrate you have complied with client and regulatory requirements.
4. Check for money laundering – Anti-money laundering requirements for both national and international clients is strict and cannot be met through the submission of documents such as passports or utility bills. Anti-money laundering searches are a quick, easy and inexpensive way of ensuring your full compliance with the regulations in every case.
5. Identify potential environmental hazards – Identifying potential risks and hazards including flood, coal, other mining activities and large infrastructure projects depending upon where the property is located in the country will help to alert you to potential issues and enable you to order the necessary environmental searches on each case.
Any firm that took the steps listed above would certainly be seen to take risk management seriously; just what the underwriters are looking for.
Nick Dyoss, business development director, TM Group