Reports

We have always said that we would feedback lessons learned from complaints to the profession, consumers, regulators and policy makers. We are delighted to do this again through a 'thematic report' looking at issues around residential conveyancing complaints. Along with the report, we've also produced a fact sheet to help consumers. Please use the links below to read an online version of the report and our case studies. Alternatively you can download the report and the consumer fact sheet as PDF documents.

Case studies

"They spent Christmas Day in a caravan – a far cry from the dream surroundings she'd envisaged for her family ..."

read Mrs A's story


Introduction

Buying a house is probably the biggest financial outlay most of us will make during our lifetime; this alone makes it an anxious, often deeply emotional experience. So if we then have the added worry of a significant delay, unexpected legal cost or go on to discover that plans for a new development just behind our new house were not revealed in the searches, we could be forgiven for thinking our lawyer has failed us in some way. Continue reading »

Download the report (pdf, opens in new window) | Download our consumer guide (pdf, opens in new window)

The rise of 'conveyancing factories'

The conveyancing market is currently severely depressed. To put things into perspective, when one of our predecessors, the Legal Complaints Service, was in operation, conveyancing accounted for almost twice as much of their business as it does ours. Of course, this was three or more years ago at the tail-end of the housing boom and before the property market imploded. Continue reading »

House-buying horror stories

Alongside delays and poor cost information, a failure to provide adequate advice or background information and/or a failure to follow instructions are high in the pecking order of causes of conveyancing complaints, accounting for around 40% of resolved cases between them. Continue reading »

Customer confusion

When something goes wrong with a house purchase, there is a temptation on the part of customers to blame the lawyer. However, that is sometimes unfair. Continue reading »

An 'accredited' conveyancing market

So long as the market remains deflated and the majority of house buyers operate within the confines of a recession, price will remain a key factor. This means practitioners are in the fight of their lives to remain competitive and continue winning business. However, is there anything else they can do? Perhaps: the LSB's benchmarking report I referred to earlier reveals that reputation is also important when deciding on a conveyancing firm. In fact, 63% of respondents said a firm's reputation was a factor influencing choice. Continue reading »

Conclusion

Here's an interesting statistic: last year, 46% of residential conveyancing complaints were resolved informally, which is slightly higher than the average across all complaints. So although residential conveyancing complaints are responsible for a high proportion of our business, at least many of the issues behind these complaints can be put right quite quickly; if the investigator can explain the conveyancing process in a little more detail for instance, or if the lawyer waives costs over and above those agreed at the outset or speeds up the process and cuts out unnecessary delays. Continue reading »

Case studies

Here we have summaries of eight Legal Ombudsman investigations: four are about delays and hidden costs – resulting in some customers losing out on their home or being left with significant unexpected costs. Two relate to a failure to follow the customer's instructions or inadequate advice or background information on the part of the lawyer – leaving one customer in a caravan on Christmas day, and another some £50,000 out of pocket. The final two are examples of where we found no poor service, helping to show how customers sometimes misunderstand what their lawyer should reasonably be expected to do. Continue reading »