Council for Licensed Conveyancers follow the OFT in looking at commissions to Estate Agents

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers has a statutory duty to protect the interests of consumers and to maintain the standards of competence and professional conduct of licensed conveyancers. It is with this in mind that the Council for Licensed Conveyancers conducts reviews as and when they feel there is a potential threat to the interests of consumers. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers have announced that they will be completing a far reaching review into commissions that some conveyancing firms pay to agents. Fridaysmove particularly welcomes this as the firm does not pay commissions to property agents.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers  has indicated that they have reason to believe that the procedures applied by some firms of estate agents to persuade buyers and sellers to instruct specific conveyancing firms are detrimental to the interests of consumers.   In particular, there is concern that a buyer or seller may be persuaded to sign a form confirming details of a transaction which also has the effect of instructing a specific conveyancing firm.   Initial Information about costs may be given by the estate agent followed by more detailed cost information from the conveyancing firm in its introductory letter to the client.

In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that the buyer or seller may also be asked by the estate agent to make a payment which is treated as a payment on account of costs or, in some cases, as a non-refundable deposit.   Arguably, the buyer or the seller (having parted with money) may believe that they are committed to instructing a specific conveyancing firm.

The purpose of the wide ranging enquiry is to find out whether such practices exist and, if so, how prevalent they are as well as to determine if any further action is necessary.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers considers that following a review of the responses received, the following options will be available : Produce information to enable consumers to understand the relationship between them, estate agents and conveyancers and to highlight their freedom to choose which firm acts on their behalf : To review the guidance note to make clear what licensed conveyancers must do:  To review the Council for Licensed Conveyancers Rules with a view to modifying the obligations on licensed conveyancers.

Assuming that doing nothing is not applicable, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers may decide to adopt one or more of the above options.   The CLC aims to notify the profession no later than the end of January 2010 which of these Option(s) it proposes to take.

What the Review will not cover Contact details for the CLC are as follow: Council for Licensed Conveyancers 16 Glebe Road Chelmsford Essex CM1 1QG DX 121925 Chelmsford 6 t: 01245 349599 f: 01245 341300