Solicitors Practice Points

The information in this section of the site is provided by our Deputy Editor, David Keighley.

October 2020

Land Registry

Practice Guide 19

Land Registry Practice Guide 19 has been updated to clarify that a 'wet ink' signature is always necessary for a certificate required for a Form LL restriction. It has also been updated to clarify that conveyancers may charge a fee to provide a certificate to comply with a restriction in Form LL and to set out how a certificate or consent required by a restriction should be lodged.

Practice Guide 8

Land Registry Practice Guide 8 has been further amended to further clarify electronic signature requirements and include example form of conveyancer's certificate.

The amendment confirms that the requirements need only be satisfied when lodging a deed to register a registrable disposition, or for the first registration of title.

Section 13.3 requires that conveyancers must be acting for both parties. The LR has confirmed that, in the following cases, only the following parties need to have a conveyancer acting for them:

  • The lender, in the case of a discharge or release.
  • The personal representatives, in the case of an assent.
  • The donor, in the case of a power of attorney.

Section 13.3 requires the conveyancer lodging the application to certify that the requirements for electronic deed signatures have been satisfied. A new Appendix 3 has been added with an example of an acceptable form of conveyancer's certificate.

Practice Guide 80

Land Registry has introduced a new Practice Guide 80 Coronavirus (COVID-19): useful information for conveyancers. It contains a summary of issues and information about pre-existing and new Land Registry practice of relevance in the current circumstances.

It does not set out the detail of these areas but does:

Provide information about changes to HM Land Registry’s practice to facilitate conveyancing and registration following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Identifies other practice guides containing information that may be of particular assistance in the current circumstances, and

Gives brief details of legislation passed in response to the coronavirus outbreak and relevant to conveyancers.

Law Society

Guidance on taxation

The Law Society has published guidance for solicitors advising on tax. The guidance is stated to be practical and as a supplement to the SRA existing regulations and guidance. The guidance highlights the obligations and standards applying to solicitors providing tax advice, such as the need to understand, clearly define and advise within the scope of a retainer, the duty to exercise reasonable skill and care, the duty to warn clients of risks and the duty not to be knowingly involved in tax evasion.

September 2020 

Land Registry

Practice Guides – electronic deed signatures 

Land Registry Practice Guide 8

This Practice Guide has been amended to clarify new practice on electronic deed signatures. Until further notice, the LR will accept registration transfers and other deeds that have been signed electronically (section 13.4 sets out what deeds can be signed electronically) providing that the following LR requirements are met:

Both parties must agree to the use of electronic signatures in relation to the deed.

Conveyancers must be acting for both parties and will oversee setting and controlling the signing process through the platform.

The six-step signing and dating process must be followed.

The conveyancer must lodge the application electronically with a pdf of the deed and must provide the following certification: "I certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the requirements set out in practice guide 8 for the execution of deeds using electronic signatures have been satisfied."

Law Society

Land Registry Practice – electronic signatures

Practice on use of electronic signatures

The Law Society has released its response to HM Land Registry’s draft practice guidance on acceptance of electronic signatures. Some of the key concerns  expressed relate ‘to witnesses and to signatories who are not known to the signatory at the point when these details are meant to be inserted in the envelope, or equivalent, on the relevant platform’. It has also expressed ‘a number of concerns about proposals relating to the conveyancer’s certificate’. These include the comment that the Law Society is ‘not sure how they will know if the witness was physically present’

 

Law Society

Property and registration fraud

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.

Form TA6 – septic tanks

Form TA6 – explanatory notes

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.

July 2020

Property fraud

Law Society updated practice note on property fraud

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.

 

Enquiries

Law Society updated guidance note to form TA6 

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.

 

VAT

HMRC withdraws VAT concession for postal treatment of property search fees

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 [2017] 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.

 

COVID-19

Law Society further amended statement on virtual execution and e-signatures

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.

 

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