Thursday, 21 January 2010

Could conveyancers be responsible for accuracy of seller's answers in Conveyancing Questionnaires ?

The issue of liability for misinformation within the PIQ ragged on this week with the Housing Minister being asked about the extent of an estate agents liability. If agents know that the answers were untrue, could the agent be in breach of consumer law?

John Healey suggests that Estate Agents may be liable as part of a reply to MP Robert Neill, who asked whether agents are liable for misleading omissions in PIQs under HIP legislation, and whether agents were responsible for checking the information.

The Housing Minister said they were not liable under HIPs law for PIQs, as long as the agent “believed on reasonable grounds” that the documents complied. No news there then !

The most interesting point that Healy raised was when he added: “An estate agent could be in breach of the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs) if he failed to act on information in the PIQ which he knew to be inaccurate or untruthful, because they are required by the CPRs to act in accordance with honest market practice and good faith.”

If the Housing Minister is correct in his interpretation of CPRs this could have greater implications than agents being sued for misinformation within the PIQ. If the CPR’s extended to information in the Sellers Property Information questionnaire or other conveyancing questionnaires then conveyancing solicitors and property lawyers alike could be held liable for misinformation where the lawyer know the information was inaccurate. The financial implication are far greater here than the losses resulting form an inaccurate PIQ.

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