So, you're all ready to move house. But how do you choose who looks after the legal side of your move? You know it’s complicated, you know it needs to be handled by a professional... but do you go with a Solicitor or a Licensed Conveyancer?
Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer?
When it comes to conveyancing the two are very similar. In fact, the main difference lies in the regulatory bodies – all solicitors practising in England and Wales must be registered with the Law Society and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Licensed Conveyancers, on the other hand, are also regulated, but by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
Many of us are all too pleased to let the professionals complete the finer points of a house move in order to ease the stresses and strains. But do we understand the roles Conveyancing Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers can legally operate and the differences between their professions?
The 1985 Administration of Justice Act
Prior to 1985 home owners had little alternative but to use a Conveyancing Solicitor for their conveyancing requirements, however the increasing amount of legal resource used by solicitors meant that the conveyancing industry itself needed to expand to cater to the demands of the growing number of people on the property ladder.
The 1985 Administration of Justice Act enabled Licensed Conveyancers to supply their services to home owners. Licensed Conveyancers are described as follows by The Council for Licensed Conveyancers:
“A Licensed Conveyancer is a qualified specialist lawyer who concentrates solely on dealing with property or conveyancing. As a result, Licensed Conveyancers operate under a bespoke regulatory framework, which is designed specifically to continually ensure consumer protection for users of services provided by Licensed Conveyancers.”
A Licensed Conveyancer is legally qualified to work on your behalf, and there are an increasing number of solicitors who have chosen to convert to Licensed Conveyancer status.
A Conveyancing Solicitor will have the benefit of years of training and experience handling and studying all aspects of property law. Consequently the decision to use a solicitor or a Licensed Conveyancer should be made at your discretion and dependent on your specific needs.
Although separate, both solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers have a similar set of guidelines and standards which their members are advised to stick to.
So what's the difference?
Solicitors will have been trained in a variety of legal fields, ranging from family law through to litigation or criminal law. Once they have finished training they can then choose to specialise in a particular area or continue covering a range of areas, like many high street lawyers. This can be an advantage when it comes to legal work related to conveyancing (for example, wills and probate), although dealing with a variety of legal work may mean your solicitor is sometimes harder to get hold of.
Licensed Conveyancers, on the other hand, are specialists in property law and this is the sole focus of their work. Although they may not have the same breadth of legal training as a solicitor, Licensed Conveyancers will have undergone a series of rigorous examinations in order to obtain their qualification and are exclusively focused on property transactions.
It all comes down to who you as a customer trust to do the best job for your move. With Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers both having all the necessary legal expertise to look after your move it’s best to focus on what makes one particular firm’s service stand out.
Some modern, specialist conveyancing practices, whether Solicitors or Licensed Conveyancers, will be able to offer a number of features to help ensure a smooth move. Things like online case tracking and email/text updates can all help speed up the conveyancing process and make it more efficient.
We work with both types of lawyers
At reallymoving we work with Conveyancing Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers. You can see a list of our conveyancing partners here.
Please note that as of 1 November 2017, Licensed Conveyancers are obligated to show a badge of their website proving they have a secure website and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Updated March 2020