Using a licensed conveyancer instead of a solicitor

Last updated: May 2024 | 5 min read

Most property lawyers concentrate primarily on conveyancing. Solicitors offer a comprehensive suite of legal services, which is why a law firm might be a better option for individuals seeking extensive legal guidance. 

On the other hand, licensed conveyancers provide specialized expertise on property matters. 

Read on to find out which of these two professionals is best suited for your property transaction needs. 

What is a licensed conveyancer?

A licensed conveyancer is someone who is a member of, and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

They are specialists in conveyancing and other legal aspects of buying or selling property in England and Wales.

They handle various tasks such as examining Land Registry documents, liaising with mortgage lenders, and managing all the legal matters tied to property transactions.

Why have licensed conveyancers emerged in property law?

In the 1980s, it was recognised that the complexity of the conveyancing process was holding back transactions and that there was a need to simplify it and expand the number of people who could offer conveyancing services.

The demand was growing for professionals who were solely committed to conveyancing services, distinct from generalist solicitors.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) formed in 1985 under the Administration of Justice Act to address this need.

Comparing licensed conveyancers with conveyancing solicitors

While both licensed conveyancers and solicitors can offer conveyancing services, their primary distinction lies in their breadth of services.

Licensed conveyancers deal solely property transactions.

Their tasks include preparing contracts, researching property histories, and liaising with local authorities. Moreover, they can witness official documents, advise clients on the conveyancing services needed, and ensure a smooth transaction process.

While many property lawyers focus solely on conveyancing, licensed conveyancers often bring specialised insight.

In contrast, solicitors, members of the Law Society, offer a broad spectrum of legal services. The portfolio of a firm of solicitors often includes areas like family law, business premises issues, and various other legal matters. Because a law firm can offer a comprehensive range of legal services, it can be a more versatile choice for those who may need broader legal counsel.

Originally, only solicitors could provide conveyancing services.

Reasons to opt for a licensed conveyancer in your property sale

Expertise in property law and practice

A licensed conveyancer brings distinct proficiency in property law. A licensed conveyancer's focus remains narrowed on conveyancing tasks.

Their training and qualifications centre on property transactions, making them specialists in the field.

Their deep knowledge, derived from practical experience, makes them adept at offering services tailored to the nuances of property transactions.

Efficiency in dealing with all aspects of the transaction

Speed and accuracy define the work of a licensed conveyancer. Whether it's interpreting mortgage instructions or processing contracts, their dedication to the discipline ensures that every step of the property sale or purchase advances smoothly.

They frequently deal with housing associations, building societies, and other property stakeholders, enhancing their ability to act efficiently on your behalf.

Protection through professional indemnity insurance

Peace of mind during the conveyancing process is paramount. Employing a licensed conveyancer guarantees this as they are required to have professional indemnity insurance. This insurance acts as a safeguard, offering protection against potential oversights or mistakes, ensuring your interests remain shielded.

Choosing the right licensed conveyancer

When considering a licensed conveyancer for your property transaction, start by checking their credentials. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers, or CLC, holds records of every licensed professional in the field.

The CLC plays an integral role in upholding the professional standards of the conveyancing industry. It not only issues the qualifying licence but also ensures that every CLC lawyer adheres to the codes of professional practice. Their vigilance assures that each licensed conveyancer operates at the expected practice level, always acting in the best interest of clients.

By confirming with the CLC, you ensure that your chosen conveyancer possesses the necessary qualifying licence to practice.

We have a further article on questions to ask your prospective conveyancer.

Becoming a licensed conveyancer

Qualifying pathways: diploma in conveyancing

A licensed conveyancer must obtain a diploma, a focused qualification specific to their role. To become a licensed conveyancer, candidates study modules that include land law, contract law, and the law of tort. This knowledge cumulates in a Level 4 and Level 6 Diploma in Conveyancing Law and Practice.

Further specialisation involves acquiring knowledge in conveyancing law and practice, as well as land registration.

Practical training and experience requirements

Once the academic study phase concludes, practical experience is required.

A conveyancer needs to work 12,000 hours in a conveyancing firm, working under experienced professionals before obtaining the first qualifying licence.

This hands-on experience ensures that the aspiring conveyancer has been adequately exposed to real-life scenarios and can handle matters related to the buying or selling of properties with confidence.

Salary and growth prospects in conveyancing law

Salaries vary considerably in conveyancing. As with many professions, the factors affecting remuneration include experience, location, and the size of the employing firm.

Entry-level licensed conveyancers can expect a certain bracket, but this can increase significantly with experience and additional qualifications.

There are also opportunities for licensed conveyancers to establish their own firms and work on behalf of building societies or banks.

Role of apprenticeship schemes and distance learning

Engaging in an apprenticeship scheme presents an alternative pathway for aspiring conveyancers.

These schemes enable candidates to earn while they learn, combining practical experience with academic study.

Distance learning offers flexibility, allowing candidates to study at their own pace, making it particularly attractive for those who might be juggling other responsibilities alongside their educational pursuits.

Frequently asked questions

Can licensed conveyancers advise on stamp taxes and Land Registry?

Absolutely, they can. Licensed conveyancers are trained to handle the legal process surrounding property transactions, which includes matters related to stamp duty land tax and Land Registry applications.

They ensure that all relevant taxes are paid, and that property transfers are correctly registered.

Do licensed conveyancers work alongside estate agents?

Often, yes. While estate agents focus on marketing the property and liaising between the buyer and seller, licensed conveyancers manage the legal side of the transaction.

Both professionals interact to ensure smooth communication and coordination, making the property transaction process as streamlined as possible.

Are conveyancing firms regulated like traditional law firms?

Yes, they are. Conveyancing firms are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). This body ensures that all licensed conveyancers adhere to strict professional standards.

This regulation instills confidence in those buying or selling property, knowing that their conveyancer is held to high professional and ethical standards.

How do licensed conveyancers and solicitors cooperate in a property transaction?

In some property transactions, a buyer might choose a licensed conveyancer while a seller might opt for a solicitor, or vice versa. In such scenarios, the two professionals will work in tandem, ensuring that contracts, finances, and all other matters related to the transaction are properly handled.

Clear communication and collaboration between the two lead to a successful property transaction.

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