Rush to meet end of SDLT holiday caused solicitor to let down client

Deadline: Solicitor’s work was highly pressurised at the time

A conveyancer who forgot to put in place a declaration of trust on the ownership of a property in the rush to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline in 2021 has been rebuked.

Parveen Sidhu told the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that her work was “highly pressurised” at the time of completion due to “a significantly increased workload” caused by the end of the stamp duty land tax reduction on 30 June 2021.

According to a notice published by the SRA yesterday, she worked at Axiom Ince at the time and is now at Taylor Rose MW.

In May 2021, she was instructed to sell two properties – one was owned jointly by mother and daughter, and the other by the daughter and her husband – and use the funds from both to purchase another property.

The purchase was to be registered in the joint names of the daughter and her husband alone and Ms Sidhu advised that a declaration of trust be prepared to reflect the agreement between the parties.

She referred them to a colleague for this and advised that the declaration would need to be in place on completion, which the parties had instructed her to achieve by 30 June.

On 29 June, Ms Sidhu completed the sales and purchase without the declaration being executed, having not taken instructions on doing so. “This meant the mother’s contribution was not protected,” the SRA said. Her son subsequently complained to the firm and to the SRA.

Ms Sidhu admitted breaching paragraph 3.4 of the SRA code of conduct – by failing to consider and take account of one of her client’s attributes, needs and circumstances – and that she failed to act in the best interests of her client.

In mitigation, she said that, because of the work pressures, she overlooked taking instructions on completing without the declaration in place, but that it was an isolated incident and she has shown “insight and remorse”.

The SRA said a written rebuke was the appropriate sanction, recognising that her conduct was “reckless as to risk of harm” to the mother.

Ms Sidhu is also to pay the SRA costs of £300.

    Readers Comments

  • Mark Kiteley says:

    What am I missing here? Busy solicitor makes mistake for which the firm will have insurance. If the mistake is innocent, why is it a disciplinary matter?

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