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Can you change your solicitor during the conveyancing process?

Buying or selling a home can be one of the most rewarding but also one of the most stressful events in life. Having to change to a new solicitor during the conveyancing process can be quick and straightforward, however, it can sometimes also make the transaction feel laborious and uncertain.

Whilst we hope that you would never have to face the prospect of changing solicitors mid-way through a property transaction, we appreciate that sometimes it is necessary.

You may need to change solicitor as you have lost confidence in their ability to carry out their duties successfully. Sometimes you may need to change your solicitor because of other issues such as the firm no longer being able to act on behalf of a client or because the original firm has closed down.

With this in mind, we discuss some of the most common questions that might arise

How does a conveyancing transfer work?

If you have decided to change your conveyancing solicitor, you should waste no time in doing so.

As a general rule, it is easier to transfer work earlier in the conveyancing process than it is if contracts have been exchanged and a completion date has been decided.

If you find yourself needing to change your conveyancing solicitor because your previous solicitor is no longer able to act, you may also need advice on how to claim compensation for this.

Our team at Thorneycroft Solicitors can assist you by arranging to transfer your transaction to one our leading conveyancing solicitors for you.

However, before changing your conveyancing solicitor it’s important to consider a number of factors including, whether or not you will need to pay the first solicitor and if so, how much? Will switching conveyancing solicitors affect your mortgage offer, and is it the responsibility of you or the current solicitor to hand over the paperwork and any monies to the new firm?

Will I have to pay for work that’s already been carried out?

Considering whether or not you need to pay the first solicitor you work with will play a key role in deciding whether or not you will want to switch conveyancers.

If and how much you need to pay will depend on the specific terms laid out in the original agreement that was made with the first solicitor.

It’s important to also remember that even if you need to switch solicitors because your current one can no longer act for you or has closed down, you may still need to pay for work that has already been carried out.

Is it easy to get my conveyancing documents and paperwork transferred to another solicitor?

In some cases, it may not be straightforward to have your paperwork transferred. Often the first firm won’t release any of your paperwork until they have been paid for the work that they have already carried out.

If you are selling a property, your new conveyancing solicitor will be able to get a copy of your title direct from the land registry. Your new solicitor may also be able to carry on with the conveyancing process without first receiving the documents being held by the first firm if the contracts haven’t yet been exchanged.

If your title is unregistered with the land registry and the first firm is in possession of the deeds, they will need to pass them on to the new solicitor. This may incur an extra cost and you will need to determine this with the first solicitor who is in possession of the deeds.

What happens if a solicitor is holding money for me?

If you have given part or all of the money to the solicitor to hold for the transaction you wish to carry out, there should be no issue with having the money transferred to your new solicitor.

However, this will not apply if the money is an advance on your mortgage from a lender, the money will belong to the lender until the purchase of the property is completed.

Unfortunately, transferring money from a firm that has closed down can sometimes be a lengthy process, as the agent firm dealing with the closed firm will have to be able to access the closed firm’s accounts before they can verify who the money belongs to.

Will I be penalised if I decide to change to a new conveyancing solicitor?

Whilst you may incur extra fees if you decide to change your conveyancing solicitor, it is unlikely that you will incur any penalties. However, they will be incurred if completion of the transaction is delayed as a result of a change in solicitors.

Other penalties may also be incurred, but it is always best to consult your new solicitor to find out the full details.

Can I claim compensation if a law firm is closed down?

Even if a firm is holding money for a client when they close down, the money should remain safe and should be recovered easily by the client.

Should this not be the case and money have gone missing, the SRA provides details about how to make a claim against a firm that has ceased trading.

A member of our conveyancing team will be able to talk you through your options in the event that you choose our team to replace your current conveyancing solicitors.

What should you do next?

Changing your conveyancing solicitor can lead to a simpler sales process for your property if your current conveyancing solicitor is not carrying out their duties in a competent manner.

It can save you money. Our conveyancing team works on a fixed fee basis, ensuring you get excellent value for money and peace of mind that your transaction will go through as quickly and smoothly as possible.

If you’d like to speak to a member of our conveyancing team about how they can help you with your conveyancing needs, please call 03300 580 118.