A solicitor is a legal adviser representing either the seller or the buyer. It is technically possible, but ill-advised, for one solicitor to represent both parties. In such a scenario the solicitor must have had both parties as previous clients as well as their mutual agreement to his handling the matter. Most commonly this may arise with a sale between two members of the same family after probate or a family rearrangement.
The seller’s solicitor is responsible for drawing up the legal documentation, while the buyer’s solicitor will look into all aspects of the proposed agreement on behalf of his client. He should be in a position to give independent impartial advice on all aspects of the purchase and you should consult him before signing any contract or legal agreement.
We would emphasise the importance of the solicitor being independent. If he were employed by anyone then his duty of care to his employer could take precedence over his duty to you – hence his advice may not always be as impartial as you would wish.
Solicitors are qualified to handle a wide range of legal work in addition to conveyancing. They all belong to the Law Society and bound by specific codes of professional practice. Indeed the initial monopoly on conveyancing was granted to the solicitors’ profession over 200 years ago.
Incidentally, throughout these notes, we have generally referred to solicitors, but this could equally well mean a licensed conveyancer or any qualified legal adviser handling the conveyancing work on your behalf.
As estate agents we have had long experience of dealing with all local solicitors and conveyancing companies, and will be pleased to recommend a list of suitable firms you may wish to approach.