Call for conveyancing clarity
By Nicola Laver
Conveyancing lawyers are awaiting clarification around ongoing conveyancing transactions after the UK was put on lockdown banning all non-essential activity.
Yesterday (24 March) Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office, advised people buying and selling homes to put their transactions on hold, but confirmed those who have already exchanged contracts can proceed.
In response, the Law Society said it is seeking further clarity from government and will monitor closely as the situation develops.
It said it hopes official guidance will be published in the next few days.
Guidance on Covid-19 and residential conveyancing transactions was issued on 16 March but the subsequent lockdown raises many more issues that now need clarification.
Law Society President Simon Davis said: “If you are acting for someone who has exchanged contracts and has a completion date within the next few days, and you, your client and the other side are able to proceed, there is currently no government guidance to prevent you doing so.
“This is, of course, subject to following current guidelines in respect of public health: properties not being occupied with cases (or suspected cases of) Covid-19, occupants not being in a state of isolation, and all parties abiding to social distancing requirements.”
A key challenge is the execution of transfers and other deeds in relation to transactions of land and property that must be registered and legally, which requires execution in person in the presence of witnesses.