A UK solicitor can act on behalf of a client in both the purchase and sale of different properties however a solicitor cannot usually act for both the buyer and the seller of a particular property due to the possibility of a conflict of interest arising between the parties. Under normal circumstances therefore the buyer and seller of a property must be separately represented with each one having their own legal representation to carry out their part of the property conveyancing. This general rule which exists to remove any possibility of conflict does however have a few exceptions. The same solicitor may act on behalf of both the buyer and seller if the value of the land is low or in cases where the buyer and seller are close family relatives.
Having the same solicitor act on both sides of the transaction does reduce the legal charges very considerably however the circumstances in which this would occur are not common except in transfers from elderly parents to children in cases of advance tax planning to reduce the future burden of potential inheritance tax.
Another exception regarding the general rule about property conveyancing conflict relates to two different solicitors within the same firm acting for the buyer and the seller. This scenario is within the rules provided that neither solicitor has access to the others information and documentation by the use of ‘Chinese walls’. This practice is not generally favoured with a majority of lawyers doubting the integrity of Chinese walls in the event of one solicitor breaching the rules and obtaining clandestine access to the others files or alternatively both solicitors acting in collusion to smooth the passage of the transaction with neither acting fully in their own clients interests. Thus, it is still advisable to employ solicitors from different firms in order to avoid any complications regarding a breach of confidentiality at any point in the transaction.
Conveyancing transactions are mainly carried out electronically in a paperless environment with enhanced usage of the internet for searches and document transfer. Clients need never attend at a solicitors offices during the entire course of the transaction which is carried out by email, post and telephone. The Land Registry e-conveyancing scheme has greatly reduced the costs associated with all land transactions. The software allows solicitors to handle documents electronically and includes viewing, electronically signing and instant transmission over the Internet. The sending of hard copies is not necessary. In addition to this, the system allows all parties to communicate with each other at all times in order to be able to monitor the details of the transactions. Private messaging is also featured within the system to hasten the process.
On matter which relates to conveyancing which is not electronic is in regard to mortgage repossession proceedings. If a borrower fails to pay off their loan installments, a mortgage repossession solicitor instructed by the lender will take civil legal action whereas another mortgage repossession solicitor acting for the defendant may defend the action.