The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today issued newly-published sector-specific guidance for conveyancing firms in order to support Government plans on reopening the housing market, enabling people to move safely.
The collaborative sector guide sets out how the legal aspects of home moving can take place while complying with social distancing measures and Public Health guidance.
The impact of COVID-19 is creating new methods of achieving home moves not only for buyers and sellers but also for conveyancers. On 13th May the Government announced its plan to reopen the housing market as safely as possible and issued guidance on how ‘test and trace’ works on 27th May.
Following the release of a cross-industry guide to support Government plans to re-open the housing market, this sector-specific guidance for conveyancers – prepared by the CA, the Law Society, the Society for Licensed Conveyancers, CILEx, and the Bold Legal Group – has now been published.
The purpose of this collaborative industry guide is to provide conveyancers with information to enable sales and purchases to be carried out while maintaining safety as test and trace is introduced and social distancing measures are eased or increased in line with Government guidance.
The guidance is applicable to both England & Wales, however the regulations and guidance relating to the reopening of the market, issued by the UK Government, apply only in England. It applies to owner-occupied homes and second-hand homes, but not new-build.
The Guide addresses considerations for electronic and wet ink signatures, ‘Mercury’ style execution, ID verification, witnessing and simultaneous exchange and completion, while adhering to social distancing requirements.
It also covers:
- Meeting with clients.
- Taking initial instructions.
- Complying with ID requirements.
- Amending undertakings.
- Dealing with lenders.
- Exchanging contracts and using the Code for Completion.
- Agreeing completion dates.
- Executing documents.
- Dealing with transactions in Wales.
Paul Smee, Chair of the Conveyancing Association, commented: “As always, the industry works best when it works collaboratively, and this new sector-specific guidance is the result of a number of industry bodies and organisations pooling their expertise and resources. We’re all acutely aware that this new post-COVID-19 environment presents a number of challenges for conveyancing firms in terms of their ability to progress cases, and we wanted to ensure our members had information which they could follow not just to do this but also to proceed in a safe manner. We believe this Guide does exactly that and we are urging all conveyancing firms to make full use of it.”
Simon Davis, President of the Law Society, said: “It is important that conveyancers work together to ensure that home moves can take place safely and that buyers and sellers can understand how the new process is different. It will be important for conveyancers and buyers and sellers to remain flexible as the position may change suddenly. Local lockdowns might be imposed that might affect some transactions. This sector-specific guidance will help conveyancing solicitors to get the market back on its feet safely, securely and as expediently as is possible.”