Using a Licensed Conveyancer instead of a solicitor

| 12 min read

Contrary to popular belief, not all property conveyancing services are provided by solicitors.

Suitably qualified individuals can gain licensing from the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). A Licensed Conveyancer can provide services on their own or as part of a larger firm of solicitors.

In this article, you can find more about the role of Licensed Conveyancers in the conveyancing process and get a better understanding of the key differences between them and conveyancing solicitors.

What is a licensed conveyancer?

Before the Administration of Justice Act 1985, people had no alternative but to use a conveyancing solicitor if they want to purchase or sell a property. The Justice Act enabled licensed conveyencers to supply conveyancing services and cater to the growing demand of people invovled in property transactions.

Licensed Conveyancers are individuals that have been certified by the Council of Licensed Conveyors to carry out a range of services relating to selling and buying property. They also have the legal authority to administer and witness official documents such as affidavits.

Although Licensed Conveyancer can provide these services by setting up a firm, many tend to deliver their services and expertise alongside a team of solicitors in law firms. A firm will be able to explain the precise structure of this when a quote is provided so that you can be assured with regards to the handling of your case.

The type of services offered by a Licensed Conveyancer tend to be more limited in their overall scope. However, a licensed conveyancer can deal with all legal aspects of the conveyancing process.

The key advantage of using a Licensed Conveyancer is that he or she is likely to be suitably qualified to deal with a large number of scenarios as a specialist in conveyancing, offering top quality advice and assistance throughout the process.

This is in comparison to solicitors who provide conveyancing alongside many different legal services, although some do specialise.

What is the Council of Licensed Conveyancers?

The relevant licensing and regulation for individual licensed conveyancers is provided by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

Established in 1985, it is the regulatory body covering England and Wales with the organisation's core purpose being that of setting and maintaining the high standards for licensed conveyancers. Its role involves:

  • regulating the entry to the profession through setting educational and professional training standards
  • keeping a record of all members
  • upholding high standards for the professional practice of conveyancing
  • ensuring the regulation of the discipline and conduct displayed by members
  • undertaking thorough inspections of firms and Licensed Conveyancers to gauge conduct and services
  • providing expert advice to members to ensure that they are able to remain compliant to standards and regulations
  • assisting newly qualified members in developing their skill set to meet the high demands of ever-changing regulatory standards 
  • encouraging and promoting a strong and diverse legal sector; and one that promotes and adheres to professional principles

Overall, this regulatory body carries a huge responsibility in promoting and upholding the regulatory standards for all Licensed Conveyancers. Therefore, an individual or firm that is licensed by this body can be deemed as sufficiently qualified to take on a range of conveyancing matters.

Solicitors do not require this licensing to carry out conveyancing services, but instead, they need to be regulated with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

However, there is often a choice to be made, which is whether to use a licensed conveyancing firm or to opt for the services provided by a firm of solicitors. Both options have their pros and cons, which are elaborated on below. 

Are Licensed Conveyancers cheaper than conveyancing solicitors?

It may be safe to assume that a Licensed Conveyancer would be a cheaper alternative to a conveyancing solicitor who offers the same services in a property transaction.

However, one type is not necessarily cheaper than the other, and therefore you should always conduct your due diligence. Consider shopping around and attaining quotes from a variety of firms and compare conveyancing fees before making your final choice.

Also, the initial costs should not be the only motivating factor, since certain cases can become more complex than initially thought. 

While low-cost quotes may seem appealing, the lower quality of conveyancing services provided can often increase the stress of the process. You may also have to contend with further legal fees if this poor level of service results in complex issues.

Additionally, not all firms set out their quotes in the same manner, which makes it vital to comb through the fine print. The majority of firms will set out any other potential fees that may be necessary should you require any other services during the transaction.

Differences in the provision of legal services

The main difference between Licensed Conveyancing and solicitors is the type of legal services that they can provide.

A fully licensed conveyancing firm is not able to provide the same breadth of legal services as a firm of solicitors.

However, in some cases, Licensed Conveyancers may be able to carry out some probate work so long as they are sufficiently qualified and have the right experience.

Usually, conveyancing does not involve litigation, and cases generally don't go to court or tribunal.

Disputes can arise if a buyer or seller refuses to complete the contract. Additionally, a claim could be made about a misdescription of the property. These scenarios are a precise example of where the services of a licensed conveyancers firm could be limited. In most of these cases, a client would have to consult with a team of solicitors separately, which will mean higher fees and a higher level of effort on what is already a stressful process.

This limitation of services may also extend to aspects of lease extensions, enfranchisement cases, and work relating to leasehold property. It is, however, important to note that both Licensed Conveyancers and solicitors will follow very similar procedures and practices for conveyancing.

Regulations

Since 2017, it has become mandatory for firms to make it clear to the public whether they are regulated by the CLC or the SRA. It has become commonplace for firms to use the term ‘property lawyers’ when outlining their conveyancing services. You should note that this term does not have specific legal meaning. Both Licensed Conveyancers and solicitors may be referred to as property lawyers.

Before deciding

Regardless of which specific purpose you require conveyancing services for, it is always worth conducting some research before settling on a final quote.

A firm that is appropriately regulated is likely to provide a high level of service.

Both Licensed Conveyancers and solicitors should be considered, and ideally, you may want to select a firm that has both types on their team. Sufficiently experienced Licensed Conveyancers can deliver thorough and professional work; while also having the security of a team of qualified solicitors, should any complex legal issues arise.

Can you do your own conveyancing?

Yes. There is nothing illegal in doing the conveyancing yourself when buying or selling property. We have a guide on doing your own conveyancing to help you better understand what you will have to do in a property sale or purchase to ensure that the transfer of legal title is effective in law.

However, you are better off using a specialist in the field if you are not well aware of property law in the UK and don't know how the conveyancing process works. It is a largely complicated and legal process that invovles a lot of paperwork.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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