Attempting to reduce the on-going risk of mortgage fraud, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) lays out its intentions to engage with firms.
SRA are re-visiting their draft Conveyancing Strategy that begins with a highly comprehensive review of current practices - 100 firms have been examined and now data analysis is underway for the forthcoming feedback.
History conveys how conveyancing has been responsible for a high percentage of claims over the years, both solicitors' insurance and the Compensation Fund, on top of being the topic of an undesirable level of complaints against the profession itself.
On one hand poor quality of work has led to various claims, however for the most part the blame lays on the weak risk management and compliance systems that are in place. The combination of these two flaws has resulted in a failure to identify fraudulent activities or other acts of external corruption or, indeed, within the actual firms themselves.
Historically the SRA has concentrated on property-related fraud and money laundering, both individuals and firms, analysing the posed risks. Hence, this experience and connections to the insurance industry has enabled further action to address the lack of robust risk management systems when concerning conveyancing work.
Richard Collins, SRA executive director for policy, said: "As a risk-based regulator we continually analyse the key risks posed to the achievement of our regulatory objectives. It is clear that we need to continue to target resources on conveyancing - both to assist firms in managing their own risks and compliance and to identify and prevent dishonest behaviour; either by third parties seeking to use solicitors' firms for fraudulent transactions or by a small proportion of firms themselves."
The potential of financial loss is a pivotal area of interest for the SRA. One aspect of the conveyancing process under the microscope is the way in which firms need to hold client money. By re-evaluating the situation the SRA aims to enhance safety but protecting against criminal elements.
The Law Society, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Land Registry are all partners that this review will see the SRA working with, while also highlighting the comparison between SRA and other UK regulators and international practices.
Now all the theory and action has taken place, find out later for the results of this extensive research project into firms conveyancing...