Licensed Conveyancers - the English experience

The English Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is the regulatory body for licensed conveyancers in England. It was established in terms of the Administration of Justice Act 1985. Its duty in terms of this act is: "to ensure that the standards of competence and professional conduct among persons who practice as Licensed conveyancers are sufficient to secure adequate protection for consumers and that the conveyancing services provided by such persons are provided both economically and efficiently."

This departure from established practice has led us to believe that such practitioners would provide the consumer with a greater choice. They would also bring new ideas and innovative practices to boost competition and quality of service.

In terms of this legislation, non-solicitors may become licensed conveyancers after passing CLC examinations and meeting the practical training requirements. This training consists of at least two years of full time qualifying employment with a recognised employer.

Initially, licensed conveyancers are granted a limited licence that allows them to practice within "qualifying" employment for 3 years. "Qualifying" employment, means that the practitioners may not practise on their own but as employees of other licensed conveyancers. Banks or financial institutions that have licensed conveyancers as head of the legal department may also employ them.

After three years, conveyancers may apply for full licenses. This will enable them to offer conveyancing services directly to the public as sole principal members of a partnership or as members of a recognised body (bank, financial institution). These conveyancing services are defined in Section 11(3) of the Administration of Justice Act 1985. They entail "the preparation of transfers, conveyances, contracts and other documents in connection with, and other services ancillary to, the disposition or acquisition of estates of interests in land". In short, conveyancers are not limited in what type of conveyancing services they may choose to provide.

The CLC monitors and regulates the profession by way of the Compliance Department. This consists of teams of Investigation Accountants and Conveyancing Inspectors, with secretarial and administrative support. Each team operates a rolling programme, progressively moving around the country inspecting the conveyancing files kept by the conveyancing practices. If any breaches have occurred, the matter is referred to the Conduct and Compliance Committee.

The Investigating Committee of the Council deals with complaints made about licensed conveyancers. These complaints may result in disciplinary proceedings and/or the conveyancer being asked to take action such as repaying some or all of his costs, or rectifying any error at his expense in order to compensate the client. If poor service is a result of negligence and the claim could be for substantial sums or gives rise to difficult questions of fact or law, the complaint will first be referred to the Licensed Conveyancer's insurers.

Council for Licensed Conveyancers website

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