If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, it’s only natural you want things to move forward at a swift but comfortable pace. 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 homebuying or selling process. It’s for these reasons that many movers question whether a solicitor can act for buyer and seller, hoping to save both sides some time and money.
Can both parties use the same conveyancer when buying and selling a house?
Yes, most of the time you can use the same conveyancer for buying and selling – provided that certain criteria are met. (These criteria are set to protect both parties from any potential risks associated with using the same lawyer.)
What’s the benefit of using the same solicitor?
For obvious reasons, the process of buying or selling a home can be complex and bureaucratic. By using the same solicitor to act for buyer and seller, you reduce the number of parties involved. The same systems, processes and timetables will be applied on both sides, likely saving time along the way. Not every solicitor can act for buyer and seller, however at My Home Move Conveyancing, we’ll be happy to as long as the criteria are met. We even have a dedicated team of conveyancers for these transactions, giving the best service we can.
Who decides if both parties can use the same conveyancer?
In a few scenarios, buyers and sellers using the same conveyancer are not able to receive the level of personal care and professional advice they should be entitled to, as a result of what’s known as a ‘conflict of interest’. That’s why regulation is now clear that the same lawyer can only act for both parties if several criteria are met.
Ultimately it will be up to the conveyancer whether they feel the criteria are met and that they can take your case on. Many lawyers will be happy to consider doing so, and if that’s the case, should discuss the criteria with you and talk you through the positives or any potential downsides.
In theory, a different conveyancer working from the same firm may represent each party, which can go a long way in avoiding any potential complications.
What is meant by a ‘conveyancing conflict of interest’?
There are two types of conflict of interest in conveyancing:
So what do the regulations say?
The most up-to-date regulations do not 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 a party to represent, otherwise they would fall foul of their regulatory Code of Conduct. However, if you think your circumstances meet the criteria, talk to your conveyancer. They’re able to provide additional guidance as to whether representing both buyer and seller would be permitted in your situation.
What are the circumstances where it may be possible?
If there is a high likelihood of a conflict of interest occurring 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 conveyancer 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 a conflict of interest is possible, your conveyancer will consider things like:
If the conveyancer concludes the risk of conflict is minimal or can be reduced sufficiently, they should be able to go ahead. Should they do so, they’ll need to implement safeguards for the parties, and these often include:
At My Home Move Conveyancing, we’re always happy to consider representing buyers and sellers at the same time, so get in touch to talk through your situation and discuss the options available to you. If you’d like to learn more about how conveyancing works, take a look at our handy guide.
Disclaimer: This article is for informal and general advice regarding using the same solicitor for buying and selling a property.