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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10944
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I am buying a property which I already live in. It is a

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I am buying a property which I already live in. It is a straightforward transaction. I am happy with my mortgage offer, survey report, search results etc. My solicitor is demanding to see me in person even though I have requested in writing to conduct business by post. Solicitor only works Mon-Fri 9-5. It is impossible for me to take time out of work at present to visit solicitor. I have offered to discuss matters over the telephone if the solicitor is desperate to inform me of something but the secretary refuses to budge stating this is policy, the solicitor "likes to see clients in person". Am I obliged to visit the solicitor in person? I have not signed any agreement which states this. The last house I bought I used a solicitor at the other end of the country, all business was conducted via post and phone. Do I have grounds to complain if the solicitor is demanding to see me like this?

1. This solicitor is concerned about fraud. In particular mortgage fraud. This is why he is seeing you in person. Not because he particularly wants to see you, but merely so that he satisfys himself as to the true identity of who he is dealing with. Given the large number of claims for mortgage fraud in the UK, this is prudent practice on the part of the solicitor. I regret to say that if you seek to complaint to the Law Society about this solicitor's behaviour, you will get a stern rebuff. The Law Society instructs all solicitors to satisfy themselves as to the true identity of who they are dealing with in conveyancing matters so as to avoid claims on solicitors' professional indemnity policies for mortgage fraud. So you are wasting your time complaining.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have seen adverts for conveyancing online. How do these companies verify a person's identity? I have visited the solicitor's reception several weeks ago (I was on holiday from work) and showed my driving licence and utility bills which they took copies of. Is this not adequate?

3. The only sure way of verifying a person's identity is to meet them in person, when you have their ID and verify from speaking to them that they are who they say they are. It is human intuition at bottom. This solicitor has obviously had experience in his previous dealings which makes him reluctant to just rely upon ID handed in at reception. He wants to meet who he is dealing with and suss out are they in fact who they say they are. Anyone can get hold of a utility bill and a driving licence. They could be stolen or counterfeit. So he just wants to know who he is dealing with.

4. Be aware that mortgage fraud is a leading source of claims against solicitors' professional indemnity policies. Solicitors link the transaction together so they want to be sure they are in fact dealing with who they say they are. Otherwise the solicitor gets sued.

Buachaill and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thankyou. You have explained this very well. I only wish the solicitor and/or secretary had attempted to explain this to me. I shall have to see what I can do about getting some time off work. I work in NHS hospital stroke ward, we have lots of very sick patients and are desperately short staffed!!