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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3840
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I was due to exchange on a property this Friday only to be

Customer Question

I was due to exchange on a property this Friday only to be informed last Thursday by our vendors solicitor via my solicitor that they were exchanging with someone else and it was happening as they were speaking. As they were previous potential buyers on the property, again I was informed that there contracts were in place so they could proceed immediately.

Effectively it looks like a contract race that I had no knowledge of. Although I have had conflicting stories from estate agents, solicitors that the previous contracts had been withdrawn while they were proceeding with ours.

In short

a) Is it legal what they have done?
b) Can the vendors have 2 contracts open at once without all parties knowledge?
c) is it possible they could just re-open the other buyers contract and proceed with them with just a call of notification to my solicitor this is happening, and withdraw our contract with an immediate effect therefore only having 1 live contract?
d) are we entitled to make a complaint and ask for a reimbursement of fees?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your question and welcome.

My name is AJ and I will assist you.

It sounds like what has happened is you have been gazumped which is legal and above board. There is no obligation on them to sell until contracts are exchanged.

What maybe illegal is that if there was genuinely a contract race then the solicitor should have given you notice. If you were not given notice then you could make a complaint against the solicitor to the Legal Ombudsman who have the power to pay compensation.‎

The fact that they had issued more than one contract means it could be considered a contract race. The problem you have is proving whether they allowed you to incur fees knowing they were not going to carry on with you. Presumably they are saying that the other buyer approached them and they cut off negotiations with you before continuing negotiations with the other buyer. The only way to know that would be to see the file of solicitor and therefore if you want to find out you may have to make a complaint.

I would start by actually writing to the solicitor and saying you believe this is a contract race and they have not notified you and ask them to repay your costs.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards