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Conveyancing

LR – transfer fees

You cannot normally save money on transfer fees by putting more than one transfer in a single document. The fee is payable on the ‘transfer’ (ie the act of transferring), not the deed or form that effects the transfer. Thus, separate fees are required for what are really multiple dispositions. For instance:

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SDLT – transitional rules

If a client is buying off plan, and so exchanging well before the completion date, then it is worth being aware of the traditional transitional rules where there is a change in SDLT. Broadly, if a contract has been entered into before a specific date then the buyer will pay the old (typically lower) SDLT rate, unless on or after that date there has been: 

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Off-plan buyer – register a notice

What happens if an off-plan buyer exchanges contracts, pays a deposit, and then the developer goes bust?

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Enquiries – non-reliance clause

The general rule is that you cannot rely on a ‘non-reliance’ clause if it turns out there has been a misrepresentation in the replies to enquiries.

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Fraud – buyers’ solicitors liable!

Last month we noted the important – and worrying – case involving Mishcon de Reya, who acted for an innocent buyer in a conveyancing fraud (with the fraudster using false ID to sell someone else’s property). The seller’s solicitors admitted they had not carried out full ID checks, but it was the buyer’s solicitors who were held to be liable. They had not been negligent, and had acted both reasonably and honestly. But, since they were better placed to bear the loss (ie they were insured) they were held to be liable.

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Enquiries – ‘not so far as we are aware’

It is not uncommon, especially with commercial pre-contract enquiries, for a seller to respond ‘not so far as we are aware’. But, such an answer should not be given as a lazy way of trying to avoid liability – there may be liability for misrepresentation if reasonable checks have not been taken to ensure that the reply is accurate.

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Property fraud – seller’s solicitor

While the Mishcon de Reya case has created great uncertainty about the liability of a buyer’s solicitors when there is a property fraud, so another case has raised uncertainties about the liability of the seller’s solicitors.

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Japanese knotweed – private nuisance

In an important case, a county court has held Network Rail liable after Japanese knotweed got into the foundations of homes adjoining railway land. The owners of the properties had been ‘trapped’ by knowledge of knotweed, and could not sell because banks and mortgagees would not grant mortgages on affected properties. After a four-day county court hearing, it was held that there was private nuisance, with Network Rail having to pay damages.

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Fraud – who is insured?!

Frankly, it is difficult to know what to make of the latest High Court decision on conveyancing fraud. The facts were fairly typical, with a fraudster using false ID to sell someone else’s property. The seller’s solicitors admitted that they had not carried out full ID checks; despite that, however, it was the buyer’s solicitors who were held to be liable. They had not been negligent, and had acted both reasonably and honestly – but since they were better placed to bear the loss (ie they were insured) they were held to be liable. It does seem a nonsense approach.

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Official searches – withdrawal

  It is now possible to withdraw an official search via the portal

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