Trade body the Conveyancing Association (CA) has issued sector-specific guidance for firms in order to support government plans to reopen the housing market.
The collaborative guide sets out how the legal aspects of home moving can take place while complying with social distancing measures and Public Health guidance.
Following the release of a cross-industry guide earlier this month, this sector-specific guidance for conveyancers has been prepared by the CA, the Law Society, the Society for Licensed Conveyancers, CILEx, and the Bold Legal Group.
The purpose is to provide conveyancers with information to enable sales and purchases to be carried out while maintaining safety, as test and trace is introduced and social distancing measures are eased or increased in line with government guidance.
The guidance is applicable to both England and Wales, though the regulations relating to the reopening of the market apply only in England.
It applies to owner-occupied homes and second-hand homes, but not new-builds.
The guide addresses considerations for electronic and wet ink signatures, ‘Mercury’ style execution, ID verification, witnessing and simultaneous exchange and completion, while adhering to social distancing requirements.
It also covers: meeting with clients; taking initial instructions; complying with ID requirements; amending undertakings; dealing with lenders; exchanging contracts and using the Code for Completion; agreeing completion dates; executing documents; and dealing with transactions in Wales.
The guide can be downloaded from the CA website.
Paul Smee, chair of the Conveyancing Association, said: “As always, the industry works best when it works collaboratively, and this new sector-specific guidance is the result of a number of industry bodies and organisations pooling their expertise and resources.
“We’re all acutely aware that this new post-COVID-19 environment presents a number of challenges for conveyancing firms in terms of their ability to progress cases, and we wanted to ensure our members had information which they could follow not just to do this but also to proceed in a safe manner.
“We believe this guide does exactly that and we are urging all conveyancing firms to make full use of it.”
Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, said: “It is important that conveyancers work together to ensure that home moves can take place safely and that buyers and sellers can understand how the new process is different.
“It will be important for conveyancers and buyers and sellers to remain flexible as the position may change suddenly.
“Local lockdowns might be imposed that might affect some transactions.
“This sector-specific guidance will help conveyancing solicitors to get the market back on its feet safely, securely and as expediently as is possible.”