Licensed Conveyancers in England and Wales are qualified specialist property lawyers.
Until 1987, only regulated Solicitors were, by law, allowed to carry out certain parts of conveyancing work for profit. This meant that Solicitors had an effective monopoly, although they generally employed highly experienced staff who were not qualified solicitors themselves to carry out most of the work.
The Administration of Justice Act 1987 provided for appropriately qualified people to carry out this conveyancing work which could previously only be carried out by a Solicitor. The Act set up the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) to oversee the qualification procedure and to issue licenses, allowing them to set up firms to provide conveyancing services direct to the public.
Once a person has passed the CLC examinations and undertaken the practical training requirements they can apply for a licence permitting them to carry out conveyancing services as an employed person. After they have held an employed licence for a period of three years they can then apply for a full licence permitting them to become the sole principal or a partner in a firm of Licensed Conveyancers.
Many Licensed Conveyancers choose to work for firms of Solicitors, but their name and qualification will be shown on letterheads, and they work directly with clients.
Firms of Licensed Conveyancers cannot generally provide other legal services (excepting that the CLC can now licence those with appropriate qualifications to carry out probate work). This can be a drawback when a client requires further advice or assistance arising out of a conveyancing transaction, e.g. if it becomes necessary to take action over a breach of a property contract.