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Law Society extends transition period for TA6 5th edition form: implications for conveyancers

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Law Society extends transition period for TA6 5th edition form: implications for conveyancers

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The Law Society extends the transition period for the TA6 5th edition form by six months, allowing continued use of the 4th edition until January 15, 2025, to accommodate feedback from property section members

The Law Society has announced an extension of the transition period for the new 5th edition of the TA6 form and Material Information (MI) requirements, allowing firms to continue using the 4th edition until January 15, 2025. This decision follows substantial feedback from its Property section members, who requested more time to adapt to the updated forms and MI requirements, beyond the initially planned three-month period set to end on June 25, 2024.

The extension results in a nine-month gestation period for the new Material Information requirements, prompting debate within the legal community about the implications and necessity of such an extended transition. Archie Courage, Managing Director of FormEvo.co.uk, an award-winning legal forms provider, questions whether this prolonged period merely allows conveyancers to delay adapting to the new requirements.

Courage raises a critical point: with the new MI and TA6 5th edition now known, can conveyancers ethically or practically continue using the outdated 4th edition? This issue becomes particularly pertinent when a seller's solicitor uses the 5th edition, aligned with Trading Standards directions for MI, while the buyer’s solicitor prefers or expects the 4th edition. This discrepancy can lead to several complications:

  1. Fee Adjustments: The buyer’s solicitor might have quoted fees based on the 4th edition. The 5th edition could lead to more inquiries, necessitating additional advice and potentially higher fees.
  2. Client Communication: Conveyancers must decide whether to inform clients of increased fees due to the 5th edition or absorb the additional costs, risking financial loss.
  3. Service Continuity: Firms might face the dilemma of withdrawing from conveyancing services or ignoring MI, neither of which are viable long-term solutions.

Despite these challenges, Courage suggests that the new TA6 5th edition could be a catalyst for re-evaluating legal fees in conveyancing. Rather than viewing it as a threat, the transition could present an opportunity to enhance service value and adjust fee structures accordingly. This approach requires a unified stance on minimum fees within the conveyancing market to avoid division and ensure fair compensation for the additional work involved.

Courage proposes that The Law Society (TLS) could issue a policy statement for Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) members outlining a standard fee structure, suggesting a starting fee of £600 for seller's solicitors. Such a statement would help standardize fees across the market and provide clarity for both solicitors and clients.

The extended transition period for the TA6 5th edition form reflects the need for careful adjustment to new requirements. However, it also highlights the potential for rethinking conveyancing practices and fee structures to better align with the complexities of modern property transactions. Feedback and collaboration within the legal community will be essential to navigate this transition effectively and ensure that conveyancers are adequately prepared for the future.

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