Our solicitors won’t agree on a clause in the contract – what can I do?
Q: I am purchasing a property and our conveyancers cannot agree on two clauses my seller has in their special conditions of sale (Clauses 18 and 20b). They are using the 4th Edition terms and conditions because they feel it is better for their clients. My solicitors have signed up to the 5th Edition and have advised me not to accept these clauses. I am looking for an impartial opinion to help me to come to an agreement as to what the next steps should be.
There is good reason why the Law Society requires solicitors in the Conveyancing Protocol to use the latest Edition and that is because it balances the risk fairly between the buyer and seller. Moving home is stressful enough without conveyancers choosing to use terms and conditions that are not up to date and which have been largely abandoned as time has moved on. Some of the technical reasons put forward by the sellers solicitors about updating a priority search are inaccurate and the purchasers lawyer is right to fight for you on these points. Personally I would tell the agent that you will pull out if the seller doesn’t adopt modern working practices and stops arguing over arcane legal points. There are other houses on the market.
Rob Hailstone from Big Legal Group adds that,
“Whilst there are merits in both arguments (depending on whether you are a seller or buyer) I think that the seller’s conveyancer is being more unreasonable than the buyer’s solicitors. Quite why he is using the 4th edition and not the 5th is odd.
A compromise might be for the buyer’s solicitor to accept 18 as drafted and for the seller’s conveyancer to drop 20 (b). They both win and both save face. The seller and buyer could speak to each other and then instruct their advisor accordingly.”
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