Law Society sets out TA6 consultation plan as SGM looms


Jeffery:

The Law Society has called in market researchers to help run a six-month consultation on the new version of its TA6 property information form.

The move came ahead of the no-confidence vote later this month at a special general meeting (SGM) called by the Property Lawyers Action Group (PLAG) to protest against the form.

PLAG has expressed “surprise” over the decision to commit to the consultation before the SGM.

The Law Society admitted last month that it should have consulted conveyancers before introducing the new versions of the forms TA6 and TA7 (for leaseholds) and delayed its compulsory use by members of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme for six months.

It yesterday set out how it will remedy that, commissioning global market research company CV2 to carry out “member engagement exercises”, including an online survey to capture views on the wider policy changes in residential conveyancing, the TA6 form and experience of using it.

There will be focus groups with conveyancers to understand their current experience of using both old and new versions of the forms and “the concerns on key areas of change”.

This would be combined with “user experience testing” of the new form and “deep-dive online webinars exploring key areas of concern, including liability and digitisation”.

The society said insight from the consultation would help it enhance the structure and content of the TA6 form and “inform the communication and change management support it provides to members”.

Ian Jeffery, chief executive of the Law Society, commented: “We want to hear from conveyancers who have used the forms and also those who haven’t and understand why they haven’t.

“We want to understand users’ experience and views of the TA6 form and its part in the wider conveyancing landscape and to identify improvements to the property form.”

In a statement, PLAG expressed “surprise” at the announcement, saying that the TA6 was only one of several grounds on which the SGM was requisitioned by members.

“It also seems curious to those members supporting the motion, that the Law Society leadership appears to have already made up its mind, and so have committed the Law Society to substantial expenditure on various courses of action, even before the members have had the opportunity to vote on a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the Law Society.”

Members have until 9am next Monday, 15 July, to register to attend the SGM on 23 July.

In a briefing paper for local law societies in advance of the event, PLAG argued that Chancery Lane was “seeking to unnecessarily impose substantially increased criminal and civil liability on solicitors, their staff and sellers, together with increased costs”.

The result would be to discourage sellers from putting their property on the market, it predicted.

PLAG criticised the society’s refusal to disclose counsel’s advice that the changes would not extend liability, describing it as “an affront” to members “and suggests that the legal advice is unsound”.

PLAG said the new form was “badly drafted, ambiguous and fails to provide critical protection” to sellers, solicitors and staff.

“It is our view that there has been a deliberate effort from various parties to erode the long-established tried and tested concept of ‘buyer beware’. Instead, there would be ‘seller aware’.”

PLAG went on: “Owing to the Law Society’s refusal to listen to the profession over the course of several months until eventually forced to do so by PLAG, PLAG has lost whatever remaining trust it previously held in TLS to adequately represent the interests of conveyancers, hence the vote of no confidence.

“However, it also follows that PLAG cannot trust the Law Society’s purported consultation, which we believe to be disingenuous. It appears virtually certain, that [the new version of TA6] will be forced upon the profession, irrespective of whatever occurs during the consultation.”




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