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Conveyancing

SDLT – transitional rules

If a client is buying off plan, and so exchanging well before the completion date, then it is worth being aware of the traditional transitional rules where there is a change in SDLT. Broadly, if a contract has been entered into before a specific date then the buyer will pay the old (typically lower) SDLT rate, unless on or after that date there has been: 

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Off-plan buyer – register a notice

What happens if an off-plan buyer exchanges contracts, pays a deposit, and then the developer goes bust?

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Enquiries – non-reliance clause

The general rule is that you cannot rely on a ‘non-reliance’ clause if it turns out there has been a misrepresentation in the replies to enquiries.

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Fraud – buyers’ solicitors liable!

Last month we noted the important – and worrying – case involving Mishcon de Reya, who acted for an innocent buyer in a conveyancing fraud (with the fraudster using false ID to sell someone else’s property). The seller’s solicitors admitted they had not carried out full ID checks, but it was the buyer’s solicitors who were held to be liable. They had not been negligent, and had acted both reasonably and honestly. But, since they were better placed to bear the loss (ie they were insured) they were held to be liable.

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Enquiries – ‘not so far as we are aware’

It is not uncommon, especially with commercial pre-contract enquiries, for a seller to respond ‘not so far as we are aware’. But, such an answer should not be given as a lazy way of trying to avoid liability – there may be liability for misrepresentation if reasonable checks have not been taken to ensure that the reply is accurate.

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Property fraud – seller’s solicitor

While the Mishcon de Reya case has created great uncertainty about the liability of a buyer’s solicitors when there is a property fraud, so another case has raised uncertainties about the liability of the seller’s solicitors.

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Japanese knotweed – private nuisance

In an important case, a county court has held Network Rail liable after Japanese knotweed got into the foundations of homes adjoining railway land. The owners of the properties had been ‘trapped’ by knowledge of knotweed, and could not sell because banks and mortgagees would not grant mortgages on affected properties. After a four-day county court hearing, it was held that there was private nuisance, with Network Rail having to pay damages.

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Fraud – who is insured?!

Frankly, it is difficult to know what to make of the latest High Court decision on conveyancing fraud. The facts were fairly typical, with a fraudster using false ID to sell someone else’s property. The seller’s solicitors admitted that they had not carried out full ID checks; despite that, however, it was the buyer’s solicitors who were held to be liable. They had not been negligent, and had acted both reasonably and honestly – but since they were better placed to bear the loss (ie they were insured) they were held to be liable. It does seem a nonsense approach.

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Official searches – withdrawal

  It is now possible to withdraw an official search via the portal

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Local searches – VAT

  It goes without saying that the decision by HMRC that VAT should be charged on local authority searches could have been handled far better.

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Page 10 of 51

Most-read articles

Probate fees – increase delayed
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We reported in the April 2019 edition (p34) on the increase of probate fees which was due to come into effect in April 2019. Read more...
VAT Order – construction services
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The VAT (s55A) (Specified Services and Excepted Supplies) Order 2019 comes into effect in relation to supplies made on or after 1 October 2019. Read more...
Brexit – impact on solicitors
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The Law Society has issued guidance for solicitors on the impact of the postponement of the UK’s departure from the EU. Read more...
RTA claims – no lawyers
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The Gazette reports that the MoJ has issued a consultation as to how to create an IT platform to enable unrepresented litigants to progress their own claim. Read more...
CFAs – no automatic 100% success fee
Thursday, 09 May 2019
In RTA claims, may firms routinely set a 100% success fee and claim the maximum limit of 25% of total damages. Read more...
T’s failure to respond – not a refusal of access
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The UT has held that T’s failure to reply to a letter from L requesting access to the property did not amount to a refusal of access. Read more...
MEES non-domestic rentals – reminder
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The MEES regulations are designed to tackle the least energy efficient properties in England and Wales and the Regs establish a minimum standard of EPC band E for domestic and non-domestic private... Read more...
‘Highway’ – no single meaning
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The SC has recently clarified the meaning of a highway. Read more...
Procedure – divorce
Thursday, 09 May 2019
Divorce practitioners may be particularly interested in the background to a recent case setting out the administrative processes and procedures by which errors in divorce proceedings are picked up... Read more...
EU citizens – right to work checks
Thursday, 09 May 2019
The government has issued guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and their family members, after Brexit. Read more...

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