The Protocol has been designed as the framework for the sale and purchase of a home for an owner occupier. It is assumed that both seller and buyer have lenders and that where a lender is involved it is also a client of the solicitor. It sets out a series of procedures that may be adapted for use in other types of land and property transfers. This Protocol is not intended for use in the purchase of new build homes.
The steps in the Protocol are not exhaustive and should not be regarded as a conveyancing ‘checklist’. The transaction may not proceed in a fixed order, and many of the processes can take place simultaneously or be undertaken in a changed order. The use of the Protocol is intended to ensure that all clients are treated fairly and are protected when dealing with high value assets and liabilities. Processes that are open and transparent help make the experience more efficient and reduce wasted time and costs.
Protocol: general solicitor obligations in a conveyancing transaction
The key to reducing stress in a transaction is to manage the client’s expectations; to do this you should be taking instructions on matters that could affect the chain (e.g. are parties separating, are they first time buyers, are their circumstances likely to change soon?). It is important to engage proactively with the client when getting your initial instructions. Clients may have been given unrealistic expectations by an estate agent or others about the conveyancing process or the timeframes and they may be unaware of the competing interests; you should engage with those expectations upfront and, where necessary, reset them.
There are many uncertainties in any conveyancing transaction and you cannot be definitive at the beginning of the process. You need to manage your client’s expectations at the start and throughout the transaction.
Solicitors are bound by professional obligations to their clients throughout the transaction. A solicitor is required to act in the best interests of each client and those obligations will take precedence over this Protocol.
The following obligations form part of the broader set of obligations of a solicitor and should be undertaken as a matter of course: