Wednesday, 18 December 2013

SRA and CML take opposing views on retention of conveyancing files

The CML has recently expressed concerns with the SRA’s proposals for shortening the retention period as they relate to property deeds and associated conveyancing files.  

In an effort to reduce expenses the SRA have proposed to put in place a retention period of purchase files for 7 years from date of file closure; or a period of 2 years from the date of intervention for registered deeds or documents.  

The CML are urging that the Solicitors Regulation Authority retain the current retention period of 7 years from the date of intervention. 

The CML have expressed concerns that reducing the time period for holding conveyancing files from the current requirements, would cause potential difficulty for claimants, including lender claimants, if they are unable to access historic conveyancing files required to pursue claims that are outside of typical limitation periods. This can occur where the claimant is relying on latent damage, Nykredit–type claims and claims where there has been dishonesty and concealment, which may require access to these files to assist in the case. 

Additionally, the CML point out that an intervened conveyancing firm, by its nature, is more likely to be subject to actions which may require access to historic files and documents. 

The CML have suggested the SRA to consider holding conveyancing files digitally to decrease costs rather than the proposed reform. Whilst acknowledging  there would be cost in converting the paper files to a digital format, this would allow for the extant retention period, but remove the physical storage costs, which the SRA note is a significant proportion of the overall expense.

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