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lowdrag

Original Poster:

6,733 posts

96 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
I really expected this, given the secrecy which is tantamount or worse than the Masons, but today I had the real runaround. I've had a load of problems with my solicitors in the UK (I live in France) who have the deeds to a property I am now selling. To backtrack, I should have had some inkling as to the problem last year when I emailed them three times and never had a reply relating to my will (which I finally remade elsewhere) but since we have agreed a sale I really need to get my skates on - or they do. Emails, phone calls - nothing made progress possible, so I decided to ring the Law Society. Their site is pretty opaque, but eventually I found the "Midlands Regional Office" number - based in Cardiff. No reply. so I phoned the Ombudsman, and was told to ring elsewhere, which I did, only to be told that this was the Ombudsman's problem - who'd already told me it wasn't their problem.

Turns out the company has gone bust at the end of last week, but no one had given me any inkling. The senior partner was "ill", the conveyancer was "off sick since August" and it was only this week that a nearby solicitor, I guess on the instructions of the Law Society, moved in to answer the phones and sort the mess out.

Are my deeds (which date back to 1783) safe? Are the deeds to another property safe? I guess so, and I've instructed another solicitor now, but my opinion of the Law Society has diminished substantially. I have spent a day and a half trying to talk to someone about the lack of service and to get things moving, but each time I have been told that matters can only be dealt with in writing, and that the state of the company could not be divulged. I could have lost a purchaser, but luckily haven't, and all of this leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.

No doubt one of our legal eagles will reply explaining why the system is so opaque and why nothing can be divulged, but for us Joe Public we have our rights and needs too. madfurious

Breadvan72

17,631 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
The Law Society is not the regulator of solicitors any more. You need to approach the Legal Ombudsman or the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Asking for a complaint to be made in writing does not seem unreasonable to me.

Breadvan72

17,631 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
I add that, if your property is registered land, which it probably is, then you do not need the deeds to sell it.

http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/faqs/where-a...

nick0137

15 posts

96 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Although, from what you say, it is not entirely clear what the situation is, it appears likely that the SRA has intervened in the practice (which would most likely be a partnership or an LLP, unlikely to be a company) of your solicitor. Intervention is the process by which the SRA take possession of the client files/documents and client/office monies of a practice - essentially, an intervention agent is appointed, they back a van up to the premises, and they take the files, whilst also getting the monies transferred into new accounts which they control.

The entire process is, inevitably, a mess because the intervention agent knows nothing about the practice and has to fire fight for all the clients. Hence, the most urgent will get the first attention. It is not clear from what you say whether or not this practice was acting for you on a sale of a property, or whether they were just holding (in their strong room) the "deeds" to a property which you own and which you are in the process of selling using a different solicitor.

If the former, then you need to contact the SRA and find out who the intervention agent is, or perhaps phone the practice (where there might be a phone re-direction in place to take you to the intervention agent, or an answering message giving you their details). Then contact the intervention agent and tell them what the practice was supposed to be doing for you. If it is a completion tomorrow, then the internveion agent will likely deal with it. If you are at an earlier stage of the process the intervention agent will ask you to instruct some new solicitors and arrange for the file (and any client money - as long as there is enough in the client account to go round everyone) to be sent to your new solicitor asap.

If the latter then, understandably, you will be of a lower order of importance for the intervention agent. But, still you can and should find out who they are and ask for them to look for your "deeds" and send them to you (or to your other solicitor) - although as BV says it is likely that your property is registered and that the "deeds" are of historical interest only (or perhaps relevnat if the purchaser's solicitor is a pain in the backside).
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