Plate-spinning for Lawyers is Enough to Make Your Head Spin

| General

Plate-spinning for Lawyers is Enough to Make Your Head Spin?

Challenges Facing Property Lawyers

From a compliance perspective lawyers are facing daily numerous sets of regulatory challenges from obligations imposed under the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, Proceeds of Crime Regulations, Code of Conduct for Solicitors, Accounts Rules, and the Timelines laid down by Estate Agents under their respective terms and conditions.

Rob Hailstone from Bold Legal has compiled around five decades of experience within conveyancing and recently explored the challenges facing legal professionals by comparing the landscape when he started to modern times. He explored the different changes and challenges facing the profession. Mr. Hailstone has witnessed a raft of changes to property law in his half-decade and was seemingly sadly not much has changed for the better. When Mr. Hailstone began his career he seemingly enjoyed the job more as there was no internet and there was less reliance on emails. Documents were corresponded via Document Exchanges for most transactions. Post was used to exchange contracts and Completions were processed using the traditional personal method. Transactions involving unregistered land dominated the legal landscape and were commonplace. He commented that the atmosphere in the profession is less stressful, the process was faster and higher remunerated. Somewhat alarmingly Mr. Hailstone commented that the modern conveyancing landscape is significantly tougher to work in than in decades past.

Why Is The Profession More Difficult To Work In Now?

Mr. Hailstone enlightened listeners that a different type of person is required than was needed half a century ago. He commented that even the plate-spinning approach has changed radically. In the seventies when he started there would be around ten matters involving for example:

  • unregistered title that needed to be attended to
  • keeping clients happy and
  • updating estate agents.

In stark contrast Mr Hailstone believes that property legal professionals have a much sterner challenge than was faced half a century ago. Nowadays legal professionals have to spin over twenty plates, are always finding themselves looking over their shoulder, and facing enormous pressures from affected parties on your back such as:

  • companies
  • regulators
  • lenders and
  • Estate Agents.

Mr. Hailstone commented that the pressure on legal professionals makes it far from being a comfortable sector to work in.

Challenges Facing Estate Agents

According to The Guild of Property Professionals, the major challenges affecting estate agents are location-dependent and are currently compliance-related such as:

  • anti-Money Laundering processes
  • Her Majestys Revenue and Customs activity increases
  • checking the availability and whereabouts of any appropriate material information known about a property that needs to be disclosed pre-dispute
  • in lettings, to ensure the deposit has been registered.

The Guild believes the key to understanding a business’s risk position is to assess the reality of the situation by checking that the company’s perceived risk profile by identifying any risks and managing them. It will be clear how acceptable the business risk position is at the end of the exercise. The estate agency can then progress once the risk-management position of the firm is clear.

The Guild advised legal professionals and estate agents to keep up-to-date with their CPD.

How Should Lawyers Avoid The Pitfalls

Lawyers should be ensuring they carry out the following due diligence checks when opening a file:

  • anti-money laundering checks
  • ensuring valid identification documents are filed
  • carefully check the source of any funds involved in a transaction
  • comply with the Solicitors Accounts Rules and
  • the Solicitors Code of Conduct.

They should also be ensuring they are keeping ahead of the game with their Continuous Professional Development.

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] Todays Conveyancer – Do conveyancers and estate agents face similar challenges? – 30 May 2022 - Do conveyancers and estate agents face similar challenges? | Today's Conveyancer (todaysconveyancer.co.uk)

[2] Hailston, Rob – 40 something years in conveyancing…and still going strong – 30 May 2022 – Today’s conveyancer - Do conveyancers and estate agents face similar challenges? | Today's Conveyancer (todaysconveyancer.co.uk)

[3] Solicitors Accounts Rules

[4] Code of Conduct for Solicitors

[5] Anti-Money Laundering Regulations 2007

[6] Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

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