Code of Practice
Chapter 21. Conveyancing
The Principles contained in Practice Rule 4 are the basis for the conduct of all notary-conveyancers and underpin the expectations of your Regulator and the public with regard to the conveyancing services that you provide as a notary.
Notary-conveyancers must refer to the Master’s Rules and all applicable legislation. Relevant information and explanation of some of the legislation and rules are contained in this Code of Practice.
The following Chapters have sections that relate specifically to notary-conveyancers:
Chapter 10 – Accounts
Chapter 13 – Conflicts of Interest
Chapter 14 – Continuing Professional Education
Chapter 16 – Inspections
Chapter 18 – Record Keeping and File Storage
Chapter 19 – Supervision
Notary-conveyancers should also refer to the following special sections of the Code:
Matter Guidance (Conveyancing)
You must keep up to date with current practice and, whilst it is not compulsory to do so, it is strongly recommended that you refer to the transaction guidance offered by both the Law Society (The Law Society Conveyancing Protocol) and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (The Handbook).
Best practice will include putting in place procedures and policies to ensure that work is of a consistently high level and examples of possible policies would be, but are not restricted to:
- A file-management policy and system
- Systematic policy for taking and accepting clients’ instructions
- Pro forma client details form
- Client care policy
- Terms of business incorporating a signposting notice
- Record of undertakings to ensure correct procedures followed
Dealing with third parties (Conveyancing)
Practice Rule 9.3 deals specifically with conveyancing matters.
You must distinguish between two different situations when dealing with a conveyancing transaction.
A party represented by a lawyer
In most cases it is expected that a party to a conveyancing transaction will be represented by a lawyer. If that is the case, Practice Rule 9.3.1 states that you may not communicate directly by any means whatsoever with that party except:
- to obtain information about the name and address (including e-mail address) of that lawyer; or
- with the consent of that lawyer; or
- after notifying the lawyer of the intention to contact the party direct because the other party’s lawyer has refused or without good reason failed to pass on messages or to reply to communications; or
- in exceptional circumstances where it is impracticable to contact that party’s lawyer.
Any communication under (a) to (d) above must be in writing.
You should consider this rule very carefully when contacting a party to a conveyancing transaction who is not your client, documenting the reasons for contacting that party and keeping a record of the written communication.
If the party in question speaks to you after receiving a written communication, you should make careful written notes of the conversation and confirm the substance of the conversation to the client in writing without delay.
A party not represented by a lawyer
If a party to a conveyancing transaction is not represented by a lawyer, Rule 9.3.2 provides that:
- You must not take unfair advantage of that party.
- If you speak to that party in person or by telephone you must make a written note of the conversation during the conversation or immediately afterward and then confirm the substance of the conversation in writing to that party without delay.
- Notary-conveyancers provide a competent and complete conveyancing service for their clients.
- When dealing with lenders, whether private individuals or financial institutions, including any bank or building society, notary-conveyancers are competent, efficient and professional.
- Notary-conveyancers have clear file management systems with policies to ensure that staff are aware of record-keeping requirements
- Clients receive a full letter of engagement including your terms and conditions and the signposting notice in connection with complaints at the outset.
- Clients receive a clear indication of the work to be carried out by you together with a clear estimate of costs and disbursements and timescale for completion of the work, where appropriate.
- You hold a professional indemnity insurance policy that covers sufficiently any conveyancing work undertaken by you so that a client would be adequately covered in the event that recourse to the insurance cover were necessary.
- You maintain your records in a well organised manner in accordance with the current rules (see Chapter 18 – Record Keeping and File Storage).
- You undertake continuing professional education in conveyancing on an annual basis in compliance with the CPE Regulations and, if you identify any shortcomings in your knowledge, you address these (see Chapter 14 – Continuing Professional Education).
- You keep up to date with current legislation and procedures relating to conveyancing.
- You provide any staff with any training necessary to ensure that they are up to date with current conveyancing procedures and protocols as appropriate to the nature of their particular role.
- You communicate with all parties to a conveyancing matter in accordance with applicable legislation and the Master’s Rules.
- You do not provide your clients with a full letter of engagement including your terms and conditions and the signposting notice in connection with complaints at the outset.
- You do not provide an estimate of costs and disbursements and timescale for completion of the work, where appropriate.
- The level of your professional indemnity insurance cover is insufficient with regard to the amount of conveyancing work or the value of the conveyancing work you carry out.
- The continuing professional education in conveyancing that you complete on an annual basis is insufficient to keep you up to date with current relevant legislation and changes in practice (see Chapter 14 – Continuing Professional Education).
- You do not provide staff with the necessary training to ensure that they are up to date with current conveyancing procedures and protocols as appropriate to the nature of their particular employment.
- You contact a third party directly disregarding the fact that they have legal representation.