By Ellie Mae Johnson, Deputy Conveyancing Manager.
If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, it’s only natural you want the process to run smoothly. However, if you’ve been in this position before, you may have already experienced the bumps in the road and additional costs that can crop up in the process. It’s for these reasons that many movers question whether a solicitor or conveyancer can act for both buyer and seller, hoping to save both parties time and money.
In this article we explain:
- What’s the benefit of using the same conveyancer?
- Who decides if both parties can use the same solicitor?
- What is meant by ‘conveyancing conflict of interest’?
- What do the regulations say?
- What are the circumstances where it may be possible?
- Should I use the same conveyancer for buying and selling a house?
Can buyers and sellers use the same conveyancer?
Yes, most of the time both buyer and seller can use the same conveyancer or solicitor – provided that certain criteria are met and there’s no conflict of interest. These criteria are set to protect both parties from any potential risks associated with using the same conveyancer.
What’s the benefit of using the same conveyancer?
The process of buying or selling a home can be complex and bureaucratic – so you can benefit from using the same conveyancer to act for buyer and seller.
You can use the same solicitor to:
- Reduce the number of parties involved and avoid unnecessary communications between conveyancers
- Speed up the conveyancing process as the same systems, processes and timetables are applied on both sides
- Avoid negotiations since both parties have the same interest and are working towards the same goal.
Not every conveyancing firm can act for buyer and seller, however the conveyancers we work with at My Home Move Conveyancing, are able to act for both buyer and seller, as long as the criteria are met. Our dedicated team of move specialists will be able to discuss the options available to you.
Who decides if the same conveyancing solicitor can act for buyer and seller?
In a few scenarios, buyers and sellers using the same conveyancer can’t receive the level of personal care and professional advice they should because of what’s known as a ‘conflict of interest’. That’s why regulation is now clear that the same conveyancer can only act for both parties if several criteria are met.
Ultimately, it’ll be up to the conveyancer to decide if these criteria are met, and they can take your case on. Many conveyancers will be happy to consider doing so, and they’ll discuss any benefits or potential downsides.
In theory, a different conveyancer working for the same firm may represent each party, which can go a long way in avoiding potential complications.
What is meant by a ‘conveyancing conflict of interest’?
There are two types of conflict of interest:
- Client conflict: When there’s a clash between the buyer and seller’s best interest. This means the conveyancer either shows preferential treatment to one party or is unable to provide full legal advice to one party without it being detrimental to the other.
- Own interest conflict: When there’s a clash between the conveyancer and client’s best interest; financial or personal.
So, what do the regulations say?
The most up-to-date regulations don’t make separate representation for buyers and sellers compulsory. Instead, they list the circumstances in which this would be allowed. If none of these criteria are met, then the conveyancer must choose one party to represent, otherwise they would fall foul of their regulatory Code of Conduct.
Contact us to find out more about conflict of interest for your own case.
What are the circumstances where using the same conveyancer may be possible?
If there’s a high likelihood of a conflict of interest between you and the other party, then you won’t be able to have the same firm act for buyer and seller. But if the solicitor can find a way to minimise the risk of a conflict of interest, then it should be possible for both parties to use the same conveyancing firm.
To determine whether there is a conflict of interest, your conveyancer will consider things like:
- The bargaining power of each party and how likely they are to use it
- Any unique vulnerabilities in each party’s situation
- The length of the chain – and position within it – in which the parties find themselves
If the conveyancer concludes the risk of conflict is minimal or can be reduced sufficiently, they should be able to go ahead. They’ll then need to implement safeguards for both parties, which often include:
- Inform both parties in writing about the risks and consequences if the conveyancer must stop acting
- Ask both parties to give informed consent in writing, acknowledging the situation
- Record an analysis of the factors they’ve considered to conclude they can act for both parties
- Ensure each party is represented by different individuals from the same firm
Want to learn more about how conveyancing works? Take a look at our handy conveyancing guide.
Should I use the same conveyancer for buying and selling a house?
If you’re buying and selling a property at the same time, you’re the only party involved in the process and there’s no conflict of interest. This means you can benefit from using the same conveyancer, who can help you speed up the process and complete as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informal and general advice regarding using the same conveyancer for buying and selling a property.