Monday, 12 March 2018

NatWest Reminds Conveyancing Clients To Check Bank Details Following £600,000 Fraud

The latest conveyancing scam reported in the Telegraph this weekend has seen a victim feeling “utterly alone” following the theft of almost £600,000.
The victim, whose mortgage had yet to come through, said he felt under immense pressure to make the transfer. He borrowed from his company and made a bank transfer of £593,055.20 to an Ulster Bank account, the Irish arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, on Jan 18, as per the fake solicitor’s instructions.
The fraud only came to light on Feb 9 when the victim found out the real solicitor had no knowledge of the transfer. The crime was reported immediately to NatWest, Ulster Bank and Action Fraud. The reader also tried to report the scam to various London police stations but was referred back to Action Fraud or told to call 101.
“No one seemed to have any record of my name, reference number and the case. And I’ve no idea what to do,” he said.
The article in the Telegraph quotes NatWest as saying that it was “aware” of the case and was currently investigating.  It said it was “supporting” its customer in the recovery of his funds on a “best endeavours basis” and would “continue to support him through this undoubtedly distressing situation”.
It said it wanted to remind customers to always confirm bank details with their solicitor in person or over the phone before sending any money.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Searching for the Right Paragraphs for your Report on Title

More than 400 lawyers used Lexsure’s Report on Title paragraph database last month seeking assistance in drafting this crucial document in the conveyancing process.

Firms struggle to find the time to create a firm-wide index of newly created paragraphs to be made available for future use. Lawyers readily admit to me that notwithstanding the constant moving landscape of conveyancing risk, their precedent Report on Title is updated no more than once or twice a year.

Here is a list of the most common search terms used by lawyers seeking assistance:
  1. Ground Rent
  2. Source of Funds
  3. Lease Term
  4. Minimum Lease Term
  5. Unexpired
  6. Headlease
  7. Article 4
  8. Septic
  9. Solar
  10. Chancel
The e-ROT search tool can be found here.

Almost one thousand firms registered for last year’s webinar series on Reports on Title by Lexsure. Three more webinars entitled 'How and Why Technology is Changing the way Conveyancers Report to Clients' have been added for 2018. At the time of writing this blog I understand that there are only a few spaces left. Bookings can be made here.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Top 5 Conveyancing Webinars in 2017

So what were the hot conveyancing topics in 2017? Fraud, Leasehold Changes, Lender Compliance and The fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive were all front of mind at various points of the year. The Lexsure Academy hosted on 26 webinars in 2017, many of which were sponsored by Searches UK, covering a range of topics.
The popularity of certain webinars may be viewed as an interesting measure as to the issues that conveyancers are most concerned with. Here are the figures relating to the five most attended webinar subjects:
  1. Leasehold is Changing - Updating Your Documents (997 Registrants)
  2. The Lenders’ Handbook - How to Stay on Top of Changes (721 Registrants)
  3. Pre-Completion Checklists - Do You Know What You Are Missing (690 Registrants) 
  4. Building Reports on Title/How Technology is Changing the ROT (662 Registrants)
  5. Lender Handbook Updates 2017 - An Overview (540 Registrants)
The head of training at Lexsure anticipates that the three most popular sessions for 2018 will be focused on Mortgage Lender File Reviews, Reports on Title and Additional Enquiries.
The three most popular subjects in 2017 for Lexsure’s ‘Free In-House Training’ and seminars for local law societies were:
  1. Conveyancing Fraud - Joining up the Dots
  2. Future of UK Legal Practice - A Technology Perspective
  3. Auditing Conveyancing Files: Lifting up the Carpet
Details of future webinars plus the ability to order slides or recording for previous topics can be found here.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Handbook Changes - Top Lenders Start 2018 with Updates

It has been a busy start to 2018 when it comes to lenders changing their Handbook instructions.

Three weeks into to the new year eleven lenders have updated their instructions via Part 2 of the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders' Handbook for conveyancers. Twenty six sections have been changed.

Examples of top lenders who have made updated their Part 2’s in 2018 include:
  • Halifax 
  • Bank of Scotland 
  • Lloyds Bank 
  • Santander 
  • The Mortgage Business 
  • Atom Bank 
LENDERmonitor provides protection to conveyancers from the risk of missing updates to Part 2 of the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders' Handbook. With the LENDERmonitor alert service, solicitors and conveyancers receive an email notification any time lenders of interest make changes to their policies.

Staying abreast of policy changes is particularly important at a time when lenders are making a significant number of changes and solicitors and conveyancers are at greater risk of being sued for non-compliance with lender requirements.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Top Ten Important Changes to Reports on Title 2017

In the last twelve months the conveyancing fraternity witnessed significant changes to Part 2 of the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders' Handbook. This, combined with the press and government focusing a spotlight on leasehold, resulted in firms considering how they should upgraded their Report on Title .    

In response to lender changes and in anticipation of legislative action many new paragraphs were added as optional precedent text to the Lexsure’s Report on Title in 2017 by the  network of lawyers using the software.

Here is a list of what I consider to be the Top Ten areas where new paragraphs were indexed in 2017 for future use :

  1. Ground Rent Escalation 
  2. Remaining Lease Term Less than 90 Years 
  3. High Ground Rent 
  4. Original Lease Term Less than 125
  5. Source of Funds 
  6. Contributors Towards Purchase Price
  7. New Build - Long Term Completion Date
  8. Statutory Matters Concerning Leasehold 
  9. EPC Result - F/G Rating 
  10. Limitation of Enquiries based on Protocol 

Firms wishing to be alerted as to new suggested paragraphs should subscribe to the e-ROT Notification Service.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Land Registry Applications - Room for Improvement

I sometimes come across lawyers complaining about how long it takes the Land Registry to register title.

According to Andrew Robertson, Head of Customer Policy at the Land Registry responding to a comment on a blog entitled ‘Opening our conveyancer data’ commented  ‘... we aren't able to process in the region of 40% of the applications we have pending because we're waiting for something else to be provided or done before they can proceed’.

The top 5 reasons for requisition are as follows:

1. Restrictions (20%) - consents or certificates needed to satisfy the terms of restrictions on the register
2. Discharges (13%) - discharge of charge evidence needed
3. Variations and discrepancies in names (11%)
4. Signing and witnessing of deeds (6%)

5. Identity verification issues (3%)

Monday, 16 October 2017

'All Monies Charges': A Threat to Law Firms

Image result for grabbing all monies

The recent news that the majority of the top ten lenders have declared they will use ‘all monies charges’ to repossess homes if borrowers struggle with non-mortgage debts should be cause for concern to conveyancing practitioners.

File Reviews for Handbook Compliance

More repossessions equals increased file reviews and inevitably the spotlight being placed on the lender handbook compliance.

John Kunzler, senior vice president in the financial and professional practice at Marsh recently pointed out in an article entitled ‘Grasping the nettle of conveyancing claims’:

‘...when the property market falls solicitors are often held to account for negligently performing conveyancing and, more recently, in particular failing to follow the instructions set out in the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ (CML) Handbook. For those who have worked in professional indemnity for decades, it may feel like solicitors are perpetually doomed to repeat this cycle’

A review of Marsh statistics on lender claims in England and Wales from 2011 to 2014 showed that around 40 per cent of the cost of conveyancing claims arises from breaching various disclosure obligations set out in the CML Handbook requirements. And this was a period when repossessions were low. Undoubtedly lenders choose the breaches that are easiest to prove, and support the lenders’ position that they would not have proceeded with the loan had they known the information that was not provided by the law firm.

Reports on Title

A further consequence of a lender repossessing a home for a non-mortgage debt is the inevitable questioning as to  whether a firm's Report on Title adequately explained the implications of an all monies charge. Although we are approaching Halloween I do not wish to take on the role of the Profit of Doom. Yet it's foresee the potential nightmare of a client looking to blame a lawyer if they have nothing in writing adequately explaining the meaning of such a charge.

Lexsure are running a specific webinar next month on the the topic of what to include in your Report on Title with an emphasis on the mortgage section of the Report. Bookings can be made here.