The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published the results of it thematic review on how firms are delivering residential conveyancing services, and whether they are fulfilling their obligations to their clients.

It found that most firms were fulfilling their obligations. In particular, it found that:

  • all firms proactively communicated with clients at all key stages of a purchase, with the majority meeting them face-to-face at least once
  • all firms provided clients with clear information on their complaints procedures
  • firms are increasingly embracing technology, especially regarding how they communicate with clients.

However, the SRA did identify areas for improvement. The two most significant and widespread were:

  • inaccurate initial cost estimates – 34 per cent of firms failed to include all the services / fees a matter could reasonably expect to attract in their initial quotes
  • not being open about the real cost of third-party disbursement and their firm’s mark-up on these – specifically telegraphic transfers. In 37 per cent of cases, firms failed to do this, with some charging up to 10 times the actual bank charge for processing the transfer.

The Law Society Gazette has also reported on the review’s focus on whether conveyancing firms are failing to explain the difference between freehold and leasehold ownership: according to the research, 23 per cent of firms handling leasehold purchases did not explain the difference between freehold and leasehold.