Can You Change Conveyancing Solicitors?

Buying or selling property is a lifetime decision. When purchasing property for the first time, you should be ready for a more challenging and stressful conveyancing process. 

Buying property can be swift and straightforward, but it could also take weeks or months, with lots of legal work involved. That’s why it is advisable that you only work with a property solicitor to help you.

A conveyancing solicitor speeds up the conveyancing process and gives you peace of mind in handling the transactions. However, if you cannot continue working with the solicitor, you are free to exchange them in the course of conveyancing.

Related: Conveyancing Help For First Time Buyers

You are allowed to change your conveyancer on different accounts. For instance, if the conveyancer doesn’t cooperate with you or fails to keep you up to date with recent developments in your transactions. You are free to change if you have lost confidence in the solicitor’s ability to handle your truncations and carry out their duties successfully.

Sometimes, you can choose to change your conveyancing solicitor when facing issues such as a law firm closing down. In most cases, the decision to change a solicitor arises when you feel the conveyancer is not handling your transactions as you want them to. 

There is a lot you should know when dealing with solicitors, and here are some questions arising. 

How conveyancing transfer works

Once you have decided to change your conveyancing solicitor, you should not hesitate to make that move. The earlier the better when you are changing solicitors. It is, in fact, easier to transfer work in the conveyancing process if you change solicitors before the exchange of contracts or completion date has been decided. 

Related: How To Choose The Right Conveyancing Solicitor

When you realise that you should be changing solicitors because the previous solicitor cannot act as required, you may have to seek advice on how you will get compensation. 

Before you decide to change your solicitor, you should consider the following:

  • Will you be required to pay the previous solicitor for services offered?
  • How much will you be expected to pay the solicitor?
  • Will switching solicitors affect your mortgage offer?
  • Is the solicitor responsible for handing over the paperwork and payments to the new firm?

These are essential questions you should find answers to before making that move to change your conveyancer.

Will you be paying the solicitor for the work done?

Whether you should pay your current solicitor for the work they have already done or not, plays a significant role when you decide to change solicitors. All solicitors have agreements that you must read and sign when you hire and instruct them. Therefore, the payment depends on the terms laid out in your agreement with them.

In a case where the solicitor’s law firm has closed down, you are still required to pay for the work they have done. In some cases, the CLC and SRA may intervene when the solicitor’s law firm is insolvent or closed. The CLC or the SRA will arrange for your paperwork to be handed over to a new law firm, also known as an intervention agent

The Intervention agent will contact you and ask how you would like the documents handled. The authority will also arrange for a refund to the client.

Related: The Cost of Buying a House and Moving

What happens if the solicitor is holding money?

Changing your solicitor after you have already handed them some part of the purchase money should not worry you. Solicitors are required to hold client money in separate bank accounts. Therefore, the solicitor should be able to refund the money on request. 

If the money in question is a mortgage advance from the lender, this does not apply. In such a case, the money belongs to the mortgage lender until the completion. So if the client decides to change, the solicitor should return the money to the lender.

When the solicitor’s law firm closes down, the refund process may take some time. This is because arrangements are made to transfer the money to the new solicitor. Reviewing the law firm’s records and verifying transactions takes time.

Also See: Are Conveyancing Fees Tax Deductible? 

Will you be penalised when changing a solicitor?

When changing a solicitor, you are not likely to pay penalties. However,  this depends on how far you had gone with the solicitor when conveyancing. You should confirm with your new solicitor all the details regarding any penalties.

Final Thoughts 

Changing your current solicitor can be excellent if you want to streamline the conveyancing process. If you feel your solicitor is not fast enough, inexperienced, or incompetent, you are free to change them. Finding a competent solicitor can save you money and time in the end.

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