New TA6 form “a business opportunity” for conveyancers

Sellers: Current form not fit for purpose

One of the solicitors responsible for the new version of the Law Society’s TA6 conveyancing form, which has triggered a furious reaction from many conveyancers, has described it as a “business opportunity” and added that he “cannot wait to use it”.

However, the comments by Mark Sellers did not go down well with some audience members at the Bold Legal Group annual conference in London yesterday, who he acknowledged were laughing.

Mr Sellers, a partner at Penningtons Manches Cooper and member of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee, said it was “pretty clear” that the current TA6 form was “not fit for purpose”.

The society believed it would be “useful to update the TA6 so estate agents could instruct solicitors sooner and buyers could make more informed choices”.

The new form includes upfront material information (MI) that the National Trading Standards’ estate and letting agency team says should be disclosed by estate agents on property listings.

The furore over the form, released in March, led the Property Lawyers Action Group to collect the signatures it needed to call a special general meeting of the Law Society.

The society admitted earlier this month that it should have consulted members on the form and last week responded to the SGM by postponing the date for making use of the form compulsory for members of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme for six months, until 15 January 2025, to allow time for consultation.

Sarah Dwight, a sole practitioner and another member of the committee, said she agreed with Mr Sellers about the TA6 being a business opportunity.

Use of the form could “save time and money” and reduce the number of buyers who pull out of transactions because of things they did not know about at the start, such as restrictive covenants.

It could also help to cut transaction times, which were now so long that “if you put in an offer yesterday you would not be moving until Christmas”.

In a lively question and answer session, one conveyancer said she had used the new form for two weeks but then stopped because “all it did was delay matters”.

Another said he had visited two estate agents with the new 32-page form, but neither “had heard about material information and had no intention of complying with it”.

The conveyancer, who accused Mr Sellers of being in “complete cloud cuckoo land”, said the estate agents did not want to use the new form because it would delay listings.

On the potential criminal liability of conveyancers using the new form, Mr Sellers said the Law Society had taken legal advice, although he had not seen it.

He said the society advocated a “cautious approach” and that solicitors should “always advise their client to disclose material information”; if the seller was not prepared to disclose, they should consider not acting. He said none of this had changed because of the new form.

However, one conveyancer said she was concerned that conveyancers and estate agents would “own” the material information and face a two-year sentence of imprisonment if it was not accurate. “I don’t want to go to prison for something the estate agent is putting out.”

Iain McKenzie, an estate agent and chief executive of the Guild of Property Professionals, was met with a chorus of “No!” when he said estate agents would abandon referral fees if solicitors could ensure faster completion.

Ms Dwight met with a similar response when she suggested, if estate agents had “good relationships” with conveyancers, they would use them “because you provide a better service” rather than because they paid a referral fee.

Bold Legal Group managing director Rob Hailstone said the Law Society would be launching a consultation next month and the result was “not a foregone conclusion”.

He urged all conveyancing firms to be “creative” and “constructive” in their responses: “There may be a chance to make a difference. Don’t waste it.”

    Readers Comments

  • Arthur Michael Robinson says:

    “Iain McKenzie, an estate agent and chief executive of the Guild of Property Professionals, was met with a chorus of “No!” when he said estate agents would abandon referral fees if solicitors could ensure faster completion.”

    What is missing in this statement is an acknowledgment that many of the firms who pay referral fees do so to feed the machine process they’ve created by over relying on technology at the expense of qualified conveyancers.

    A proper analysis of data held by estate agents will reveal which firms are on average quicker than 22 weeks and which exceed it.

    There are estate agents who focus on the service the conveyancer can offer and recommend sellers and buyers to those firms for no referral fee because it’s good for business.

    Mr Sellers and Ms Dwight need to think about what they’ve done and recognise there is a reputational issue that must be addressed by The Law Society.

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