Law Society admits it should have consulted on conveyancing forms

Conveyancing: No change to liability situation, says Law Society

The Law Society has admitted that it should have consulted with its members during the process of redrafting conveyancing forms TA6 and TA7, which triggered an angry backlash from some practitioners when they were released at the end of March this year.

But the society insisted that the changes to the forms, introduced to cover the ‘material information’ now required by the National Trading Standards for property listings, did not mean additional liability for solicitors acting for sellers or buyers.

The forms allow sellers to provide buyers with detailed information about a property they hope to buy.

In frequently asked questions published yesterday, the society said it did not “usually consult with the whole conveyancing or property membership” when making updates and changes to the TA6 form.

However, the society recognised that “some members have been surprised by the number and nature” of changes to the form.

“We have understood from the feedback we have had that members would have preferred us to consult and be more transparent as the forms were developed.

“We agree that, on reflection, we could have communicated the nature of the changes to the TA6 form while the working group was working on the new version and sought feedback as we went through the process.

“We are grateful for this feedback and are determined to apply this learning to future significant changes to the transaction forms.”

But there was no suggestion that Chancery Lane would withdraw the forms so that it could consult on them, as the Property Lawyers Action Group had demanded.

The society said it consulted on changes to the forms back in 2012 because it was looking to make changes “on a wide range of issues”.

Those involved in developing the latest versions of the forms included conveyancers from small, medium and large law firms, as well as professional support lawyers and academics, it said.

“Many members of the working group have a wealth of experience working on the transaction forms.”

The society said its understanding was that the new TA6 form, which will be mandatory for Conveyancing Quality Scheme firms from 25 June this year, had already been used in “tens of thousands of transactions”.

The legal position did not “appear to the Law Society to have changed” as a result of release of the new forms.

The amendments, relating to the two categories of potential physical defects and defects as to legal title, did not “extend civil liability for solicitors acting for either buyers or sellers for either category as a result of having to provide more material information” under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The society said it believed it was “important for the profession to take a lead” on how the new guidance was introduced, so it was achieved in a way that worked best for solicitors and clients.

“It is an opportunity for solicitors to help their clients provide the information required to market the property and enable consistency of the information provided during marketing through into the legal process.”

The benefits to solicitors included having “well-prepared sellers and well-informed buyers, which should reduce the incidence of conveyancing transactions falling through and strengthen the quality of chains”.

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