The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) was created in 2011 as a kite mark for lawyers who are carrying out the best practice standards within the conveyancing market. CQS is only available for firms of solicitors and therefore firms of licensed conveyancers regulated by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers will not have the CQS kite mark.
The Law Society have published three core values which are expected to be demonstrated and achieved by all CQS accredited law firms.
Proactively and effectively manage risk and demonstrate behaviours that support and promote the integrity of CQS and the community demonstrate best practice and excellence in client care through robust practice management of residential conveyancingDemonstrate thorough knowledge and skill in handling conveyancing transactions
The Law Society has a new Core Practice Management Standard incorporating the three values and it means, all CQS solicitors must ensure they are compliant with the new Standard from 1 May 2019.
The Law Society also published a new edition of the Protocol. The new Protocol will take effect on 19 August 2019 and will replace the 2011 edition.
The updates to the CQS Protocol take account of recent developments in conveyancing law and practice, including:
New CQS Core Management Standards and the SRA Transparency Rules.The Court of Appeal decision in P&P Property Ltd v Owen White & Catlin LLP  EWCA Civ 1082 (Dreamvar).Recent government consultations on home buying and selling and leasehold reform.The revised Code for Completion by Post 2019.
There is an extent to which the Protocol sets out in writing that which conveyancers should ordinarily be doing in practice already. One prime example is a reminder that documents sent by email must be clearly identifiable and sent separately to avoid the risk of confusion, the likelihood of fraud and the frustration of unnecessary delays.
Of particular significance however is the revised Code for Completion by Post 2019 (“the Code”) which seeks to formalise the principles set out in the Dreamvar judgement, a case which JPC are proud to have been directly involved in.
In Dreamvar, the Court of Appeal held that the fraudster seller’s solicitors were in breach of the undertaking to the buyer’s solicitor implied by the 2011 edition of the Code which, as properly interpreted, required the seller’s solicitors to use the completion money only to effect a genuine completion.
The subsequent changes to the Code make it clearer to those using the 2019 edition of the Code that the seller’s solicitors give undertakings consistent only with there being a genuine completion.
Paragraph 4(ii) of the Code sets this out explicitly:
Where the Seller’s Solicitor receives and/or holds the money received for completion, the Seller’s Solicitor receives and/holds that money on trust for the person or persons who provided it, to be either
(a) paid away only in respect of a completion in which the Seller executes and delivers a valid conveyance or transfer; or
(b) repaid to the person who remitted it, if completion does not take place.
Use of the new edition of the Code automatically requires the seller’s solicitors to give undertakings predicated upon them having authority to act on behalf of “the person or persons who will be at the point of completion entitled to convey the legal and/or equitable title to the property”.
Conveyancers ought to be obtaining satisfactory ID evidence from their clients as a matter of course, whether they are acting for a Buyer or Sellers. The new edition of the Code formalises the burden under which Seller’s solicitors find themselves to be certain of their client’s identity.
The aims of the revised Protocol are to:-
- remind Conveyancers of their obligations
- reduce the risk of fraud
- increase the efficiency of the process
For a conveyancing transaction to go as smoothly as the Law Society and the general public would like, both sides’ conveyancers should be compliant with the Protocol. The aims of the Protocol are meaningless in a transaction where either the Seller or Buyer’s conveyancer does not choose to comply.
As accredited members of the Law Society’s CQS, JPC is committed to complying with the Core Practice Management Standard and Protocol.