Solicitors Practice Points
The information in this section of the site is provided by our Deputy Editor, David Keighley.
The Law Society has updated its practice note on property and registration fraud. Changes include clarifying that written risk assessments should be carried out at the start of a transaction and regularly updated and amended as further details become known, highlighting the importance of anti-money laundering checks and regulatory updates reflecting the new SRA regulations which came into force in November 2019.
The Law Society has further updated the guidance note which was reissued earlier in 2020. The revised explanatory notes reflect the change to enquiry 12.5 regarding septic tanks and the possible need for replacement or upgrade and expands the information provided in relation to enquiry 12.2 regarding electricity.
HMRC has announced that the informal concession that fees paid by solicitors for postal searches may be treated as VAT disbursements will be withdrawn from 1 December 2020.
The reasoning adopted by HMRC is that the concession is inconsistent with the reasoning in Brabners LLP v HMRC  UKFTT 0666, in which the First-tier Tribunal held that fees incurred by an appellant law firm in obtaining online property searches from an external search agency were not disbursements for the purposes of VAT. HMRC will publish revised guidance in due course.
The Law Society has published a further amended version of its position on the use of virtual execution and e-signatures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The note now includes tips on how to operate in practice.
For further information on Covid-19 and conveyancing go to the Coronavirus section of the site.