Can I get Compensation? – Conveyancing Negligence


Can I claim compensation against my conveyancing solicitors?

These days people are well aware of their legal rights and it’s becoming increasingly common for conveyancers and property solicitors to be sued for professional negligence.

Conveyancers and Solicitors handle thousands of property transactions each year, so it’s no surprise that mistakes happen. Errors made by conveyancers can cause a lot of stress for Clients, some errors can even cause clients to sustain some kind of loss.

There are many different ways negligent conveyancing can cause a loss, sometimes negligence can have severe financial and emotional consequences. But it is possible to recover losses by claiming for professional negligence.

Put simply: Professional Negligence is when a professional fails to perform their responsibilities to the required standard.

Examples of Negligent Conveyancing

Examples of Conveyancing/Property Solicitors Negligence include:

  • Failure in the Investigation of a Title e.g. Failure to advise that part of a property is not within the Seller’s title
  • Bad advice about matters affecting the property that caused a loss
  • Failure to advise on Adverse or Missing items e.g. Planning Permission, Rights of Way, Building Regulations, NHBC Guarantee
  • Failing to carry out property searches and enquiries
  • Failure to advise on information given by Sellers or Property Searches e.g. provisions for maintenance of roads and sewers, proximity of a Coal mine or other Environmental issues
  • Failure to make further enquiries after Seller’s Replies or Property Search results suggest further enquiries should be made
  • Failure in a Leasehold purchase e.g. didn’t establish that the terms of the lease are satisfactory
  • No obligation/security to build on the sale of bought land or Building contract
  • Failure to advise on a Listed Building e.g. missing Consent documents
  • Missing out important provisions from the Contract or Deed
  • Failing to register your purchase or lease at the Land Registry
  • Missing Consents for Change of Use
  • Failure to define property boundaries correctly
  • Including the wrong provisions or words in the Contract or Deed
  • Mistaken sale of all or part of your land
  • Acting without authority
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Failing to raise Requisitions on Title
  • Failing to ensure removal of a Registered Charge or Mortgage
  • Failing to register a Mortgage or Charge at Companies House on time
  • Failing to register a Mortgage or Charge at the Land Registry on time or at all
  • Failing to follow the Mortgagees instructions
  • Failures on Equity Release or Lease/Tenancy back cases
  • Failures in Contract Races
  • Failure to protect vulnerable Clients

Do I have a claim?

To successfully claim professional negligence, you’ll need to prove that the Conveyancer/Solicitor has breached the duty of care, and prove that the breach has caused a loss to you, the claimant.

You want to know for sure, you’ll have to seek the advice of a professional negligence lawyer. A ‘no win no fee’ solicitor will take on the case if they think you have a claim.

Also, in less serious circumstances you can seek FREE advice from the Legal Ombudsman. They help resolve service complaints by agreement rather than a quasi-judicial. If agreed resolution is not possible, one of the team of ombudsmen will make a decision. If you accept their decisions, you cannot take the conveyancer to court for the same set of circumstances, the case is settled.

How much can I claim?

How much can you claim? Well how long is a piece of string? …it all depends on the circumstances.

If it can be proven that a negligent conveyancer was responsible for the loss of £200,000 on a property sale/purchase, then the claimant should be entitled to claim £200,000 + extra compensation for personal stress caused.

Please note: If your claim is worth less than £10,000 it is considered a Small Claims procedure. A Small Claims procedure is different and Solicitors usually won’t get involved in these cases as you are unable to recover solicitors’ costs from the negligent conveyancers.

How long do I have to make a Negligence claim?

The limitation period in most professional negligence cases is 6 years from the date of the negligence.

The 6 years can be extended if the negligence has only become apparent at a later stage. So if you discovered negligent conveyancing after 6 years, you’d have 3 years from that date to make a claim (limited to 15 years from the date of the negligence). Proving negligence becomes harder as Conveyancers will usually only keep case files for a minimum of 6 years from the date that the transaction was completed.

So if you are considering bringing a negligence claim against a conveyancing solicitor, you should act quickly!

If you think you’ve received a really poor level of service, the Legal Ombudsman could help you get back the money you paid for your conveyancing services.

Remember, this article contains general guidance, it’s just advice and should not be relied on in place of specific legal advice. If you think you have a genuine case against a negligent conveyancer, seek legal advice.

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21 Responses

  1. Mimi2175 says:

    I bought my property with 74 years remaining in 2002. I was about to remortgage for the 3rd time until the new mortgage provider revoked their offer on the basis that my lease was now at 59 years.
    Since my first mortgage in 2002 on my property, remortgaged once thereafter and both times, I was not warned of the implications of letting the lease fall too low (or even that I should extend the lease as soon as possible). It had already past the 80 years when I had bought the property and I have a letter from my then solicitor which states “You will note that the lease is quite short, I trust that the Bank knows about this”…
    That was the only question raised by my Solicitor at the time in 2002 and no further advice given or even a plea bargain to reduce the price of the selling price on this basis. Later in 2004, when I remortgaged, nothing was said about the remaining 72 years left on lease, whatsoever, by the solicitors (not the same as the first).
    I know find myself having to pay in excess of £38,000 to extend my lease.

    • admin says:

      This is becoming ever more common, I hear of so many horror stories like this. Proving professional negligence has taken place is very difficult in circumstances like this one. The conveyancer can say that they made you aware the lease was short, but it doesn’t sound like they informed you of the risks involved… I’ll email you directly to see if I can help you further.

  2. Jane says:

    I bought my house 4 years ago on the understanding, from my conveyancing solicitor, the there was a small area beyond my rear wall that was “included in the Title.” This has turned out to be inaccurate which is significant because this small area is the only buffer I have to stop people parking across my rear access and blocking me in. The legal practice which employed the conveyancer say that she was ‘probably relying on information from the seller’. Do you think I have a case against them for negligence? She is no longer employed by them.

    • admin says:

      It doesn’t matter that she is no longer an employee, it sounds like you could have a case for Professional Negligence.

  3. cas says:

    We are in the process of buying a house and they keep telling us about something on a search, but it is the wrong house! Two people have written to us informing of some problem with water and have not replied to emails nor are they responding to calls. Can we get out of this deal and have money we’ve paid returned to us? They are incompetent!!!

    • admin says:

      Sounds very incompetent, you can pull out at anytime (as long as you haven’t exchanged contracts).

      They’ll be reluctant to give you your money back, but you should fight it!

      • cas says:

        We are not even close to signing contracts!! We should have been as there is no chain either side.They’ve done two searches, both on the wrong ;property. We did pay for a survey which we would have to have done with another company if we pulled out and probably other work that they would charge for. Do you think we would have a case for being refunded?

  4. Stephanie says:

    We agreed to sell our home to someone who promised to complete by April/may. He has 2 solicitors 1 for the purchase and the other for the mortgage lender. We have changed the date of completion twice and every time my solicitors call the buyer solicitors they have gone home or are ill and no one else can deal with the case. I accepted the offer in Feb it is now July. What can l do?

  5. L j c says:

    Our solicitor failed to tell us most of our garden falls within the green belt. We would not have purchased if we had been made aware. How can we evaluate such a loss? We believe we cannot use the garden as we intended.

  6. Rachael says:

    our searches and sellers failed to tell us about a housing development of 1600 homes being done on fields behind our house. Neighbors have since told us they were all aware but it wasn’t disclosed in the property information form and the solicitors searches show other planning applications nearby but not this on this site. The purchase was August 2016. Would we be entitled to claim anything?

  7. M T says:

    I have a similar issue, but with shared ownership – I bought 60% of the share and I have 83 years left on the lease. If it drops under 80 years, it will be more expensive to extend it (not that it isn’t already). The law states that you have to own 100% of the property to extend the lease – so I’m in a situation where I can’t extend and if I don’t the value will drop + it will be more expensive in the future. Is that something the housing association should’ve warned me about before the purchase or is it my fault for not knowing the law?

    • admin says:

      This is why I believe there are some major flaws in the leasehold system, it can cost tens of thousands to extend a lease. Your conveyancer has a duty of care and I think they should’ve made you aware that 1. your lease is short and value will fall 2. you’re unable to extend the lease without 100% ownership. I recommend that you seek some legal advice.

  8. samir patel says:

    i have bought the lease hold flat with 67 years lease remains in 2007. recently I came to know that I have now less than 60 years of lease term remains so possible cost to extend the lease would be 20k plus. I was not aware about the law that it will be expensive to renew lease if is less than 80 years. can you please advise me what kind document solicitor has to provide me explaining the risk of buying lease hold flat with less than 80 years. I have checked all the document provided by solicitors but could not find any explaining the effects in future. can you please help me to go to right direction.

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately, your solicitor does not have to provide you with documents explaining the risk of buying a short lease property. But your conveyancer has a duty of care and should have made you aware that the lease was short, I recommend seeking legal advice.

  9. Sharon says:

    Secured loan charge was never removed from my property nearly 10 year’s on

  10. Mr Glyn Jenkins says:

    I purchased a leasehold flat with a 74 year lease,I now find to extend will cost me 20k! I wasn’t made aware of this whentry getting the conveyancing done.

    • admin says:

      Your conveyancer has a duty of care and should have made you aware of how long you had left on your lease. I recommend seeking professional legal advice.

  11. denise farrington says:

    Hya after being in my house for 15yrs, we came to sell it, finding out that it was never registered when bought, we had 2 other remortgages in the space of 2004 to 2010 and it was the 2nd remortgage that picked the fault up.

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