Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (2022)

By asking the right questions, you can quickly determine for yourself whether you should trust your conveyancing transaction to a lawyer or a licensed conveyancer. As a law firm dedicated to consumer protection and the representation of consumers in conveyancing transactions, we must acknowledge our self-interest in advising you that you should engage us to represent you in your conveyancing matter. Nevertheless, the material presented on this page is provided openly and honestly to assist you in making an informed choice.

Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (1)What is the difference between a lawyer conveyancer and a licensed conveyancer?
Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (2)Are licensed conveyancers cheaper than lawyer conveyancers?
Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (3)Who has the highest level of professional indemnity (PI) insurance?
Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (4)What about support if things become complicated?
Cheap Conveyancing or Low Cost Conveyancing - Licensed Conveyancer or Lawyer Conveyancer? - How To Make The Right Choice (5)Conveyancing and Legal Best Practice – LAW9000

What is the difference between a lawyer conveyancer and a licensed conveyancer?

There are two kinds of conveyancers – lawyer conveyancers and licensed conveyancers.

Licensed conveyancers are non-lawyers who have been licensed to perform a part of the legal work associated with a real estate transaction, so long as it does not go beyond “conveyancing work” as defined in the Conveyancers Act 2006.

Lawyer conveyancers are lawyers whose main area of practice is conveyancing. While licensed conveyancers are restricted to performing only “conveyancing work”, lawyer conveyancers are able to perform ALL legal work associated with a conveyancing transaction. For example, a licensed conveyancer cannot provide a consumer with legal advice about the conduct of an estate agent (e.g. fraud, misrepresentation or criminal deceptions associated with underquoting or overquoting, dummy bidding etc.), and must refer the client to a qualified lawyer.

It is openly acknowledged by all real estate industry professionals, including licensed conveyancers, that lawyers provide the most comprehensive form of legal representation in real estate conveyancing transactions.

There are always times when a licensed conveyancer is duty-bound to refer a client to a qualified lawyer for further assistance (i.e. whenever the matter goes beyond simple “conveyancing work”, or involves issues too complex for the licensed conveyancer to handle). Lawyers NEVER refer clients to licensed conveyancers, as to do so would probably amount to professional negligence.

Are licensed conveyancers cheaper than lawyer conveyancers?

Competition between licensed conveyancers and lawyer conveyancers

The only honest basis on which licensed conveyancers can attract the attention of clients and entice them away from lawyers is by offering comparable services for lower fees. However, this is quite impossible as licensed conveyancers can never offer the same level of service, or range of complementary services, as those offered by lawyer conveyancers.

(Video) Conveyancing... explained! #Conveyancing #PropertyLaw

This situation comes as a surprise to many consumers, as the only justification offered for the introduction of licensed conveyancers through the Conveyancers Act 2006 was that licensed conveyancers would reduce the price of conveyancing for consumers through competitive pricing. The need for licensed conveyancers to refer clients to lawyers for complex matters and issues that take the matter beyond “conveyancing work” renders the licensed conveyancer an expensive “middle-man” when the total cost of the transaction is tallied. (More on this below.)

Referrals have corrupted price competition

Goodman Group Conveyancing is a well known licensed conveyancing business. Goodman Group Conveyancing has also become well-known for the high “referral fees” it pays to estate agents for client referrals. While Goodman Group openly acknowledges offering payments of $150 for each referral, many other licensed conveyancers use the same method for obtaining clients, but they do so secretly.

Cash payments are not the only form of “payment” in return for referrals. Many conveyancers receive referrals from real estate agents because they are regarded as “tame”. In other words, they will not bite the hand that feeds them.
While licensed conveyancers are limited as to the level of conveyancing service they can offer, the effects of corruption on the level of services offered has also been quite profound (we know of no conveyancing business that will represent a client who makes a complaint about an estate agent).

Finally, the cost of “referral payments” is a cost that is inevitably passed on to the consumer, either in higher conveyancing costs or lower levels of service.

For further information see our Australian Real Estate Blog articles:
Licensed Conveyancers – Client Dumping
Licensed Conveyancers – PI Insurance Problems
Licensed Conveyancer Corruption Must Be Stopped!”
Conveyancing Bribes – A New Growth Industry
AICVIC “Strongly Recommends” Against Corruption?

Who has the highest level of professional indemnity (PI) insurance?

Professional indemnity insurance, also known as “PI insurance” covers a professional for carelessness or negligence in the performance of professional tasks.

While a lawyer conveyancer carries PI insurance cover for EVERYTHING the lawyer does on the client’s behalf, the licensed conveyancer is covered only for “conveyancing work”. This creates a massive problem for licensed conveyancers, as it places them in a Catch 22 situation:

In order to ensure that their clients are protected, licensed conveyancers must not perform any legal work that goes beyond “conveyancing work” as defined in the Conveyancers Act 2006. The reason for this is that licensed conveyancers do not have the legal training, qualifications or experience to perform anything beyond simple “conveyancing work”. But how is a conveyancer to know where simple “conveyancing work” ends and other legal work commences if they do not have the legal training to determine the difference? Unfortunately for the clients of the licensed conveyancer, the answer may not be known until the licensed conveyancer’s PI insurer refuses to pay on a claim.

In its document titled “Victorian Conveyancers Professional Indemnity Insurance 2008/2009” the Business Licensing Authority (which administers the licensing of licensed conveyancers under the Conveyancers Act 2006) provides a series of questions and answers to advise licensed conveyancers about their professional indemnity insurance policy.

Here’s how the BLA document explains the PI insurance policy to licensed conveyancers:

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“What activities does this master policy for professional indemnity insurance cover me for?

The policy only provides cover for Conveyancing Work as defined by Section 4 of the Conveyancers Act 2006 (Victoria). The policy only covers Conveyancing Work in the state of Victoria. The master insurance policy provides cover for any civil liability incurred in the conduct of the Conveyancing Work, subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions set out in the policy wording.

This is followed by:

“What about non-conveyancing work which is conducted as a part of my conveyancing business?

Any activities, past and future, not deemed Conveyancing Work under the Conveyancing Act 2006 (Victoria) are not covered under the policy, even if they are conducted as part of your business…”

For the average consumer, this is a massive problem. A licensed conveyancer whose insurance claim can be refused because the claim relates to work “not deemed Conveyancing Work under the Conveyancing Act…” is in no better position than if the licensed conveyancer had no insurance at all.

For further information see our Australian Real Estate Blog article “Licensed Conveyancers – PI Insurance Problems“.

What about support if things become complicated?

What happens when the wheels well and truly fall off a conveyancing matter, and the other side threatens legal action? Most conveyancers panic, and tell the client to obtain legal advice from a lawyer. Lawyers, on the other hand, have senior lawyers and barristers to call upon.

Client dumping has become a major problem in the industry, and some licensed conveyancers have been known use the threat of “dumping” in order to control their clients.

Knowing when it’s serious and when it’s not

Imagine a conveyancing transaction where everything is running to plan and to schedule, and then suddenly a letter arrives alleging a serious breach of the law and the intention of the other party to cancel the contract. A licensed conveyancer has to decide immediately as to whether the client must be told to obtain legal advice from a qualified lawyer. However, a lawyer conveyancer will assess the situation first and determine whether or not the alleged breach has sufficient legal merit to be of concern. (It must be remembered that not all breaches of the law or contract have serious consequences.)

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It is important that your conveyancing legal representative has the ability to determine the seriousness of the matter, the resources to research the legal issues, and the ability to call upon senior lawyers or barristers if things look like becoming really serious. When it comes to legal disputes knowledge is power, and a well worded letter from a qualified lawyer who has researched the issues and has had the benefit of advice from a barrister, can solve problems before they get out of hand.

Licensed conveyancers have no-one to ask

Before the introduction of the Conveyancers Act 2006 a large number of non-lawyer conveyancers used to falsely promote themselves as “lawyer supervised” or “lawyer consulted for all legal work”, to indicate to potential clients that they could consult a lawyer for assistance if the matter become too complicated. In fact, the conveyancer’s reference to a “supervising lawyer” simply meant that the conveyancer had engaged a lawyer to protect the conveyancer from her own clients. Thus, if the conveyancer made a mistake the “supervising lawyer” would advise the conveyancer to cease acting for the client and to say nothing that would harm the conveyancer’s defence.

Licensed conveyancers, now operating under the Conveyancers Act 2006, are not permitted to pretend that a lawyer is available for the client’s benefit. If the matter becomes too complicated, or the conveyancer discovers that the matter is moving beyond simple “conveyancing work”, the conveyancer must advise the client to engage a fully qualified lawyer. However, this creates further problems similar to those associated with real estate agent referrals and conflicts of interests. Lawyers, on the other hand, are expected to have an understanding of ALL areas of law likely to impact on any conveyancing transaction. Lawyers are also skilled in legal research, so that even new legislation can be quickly assessed and dealt with by the lawyer without the need to consult others.

Lawyers have direct access to senior lawyers and barristers

A barrister is a lawyer whose full-time role is to represent clients in court. Barristers operate in a manner similar to medical specialists, and a consumer cannot access the services of a barrister unless a specialist referral has been made by a qualified lawyer. It is the lawyer’s role to identify the legal issues arising from a client’s matter, and to provide the barrister with a synopsis of the problem. The barrister then provides specialist advice as to whether the matter should proceed to court, or be dealt with by alternative means.

Using a barrister for specialist advice allows a client to determine whether or not it is worthwhile pursuing or defending a matter. Early involvement of a barrister can often save thousands of dollars, particularly if litigation can be avoided entirely.

The only way a client of a licensed conveyancer can access the services of a barrister is to have the client engage a lawyer. Again, this renders the licensed conveyancer an expensive “middle-man”, as the client is always better off if a conveyancing lawyer is engaged in the first place.

Conveyancing and Legal Best Practice – LAW9000

There is an easy way to choose the safest form of conveyancing service, and that is to make the choice based on certification to the Australian standard for legal services – Legal Best Practice LAW9000.

Australian Standard – Legal Best Practice LAW9000

LAW 9000 – Legal Best Practice is a standard which uses the internationally recognised ISO 9001 as its foundation and contains best-practice criteria specific to a legal practice.

In order to achieve accreditation a law firm must develop systems and processes that ensure maximum client satisfaction, and risk minimisation. A crucial element of every process is to ensure that a conflict of interests check is done before a client’s matter is commenced.

The certification process involves development of specific, transparent and accountable processes over many months, and culminating in a rigorous audit conducted by external auditors. The audit examines every aspect of the law firm’s operations to ensure that they meet high quality standards. Some of the key areas audited are:

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  • The firm’s commitment to quality;
  • Commitment to ensuring client satisfaction;
  • Processes for delivering legal services;
  • Business and risk management plans;
  • Human Resource practices;
  • Professional obligations of the legal industry; and
  • Continuous improvement of the firm.

Lawyers Conveyancing is accredited as a LAW9000 Legal Best Practice law firm.

A new direction for real estate and Conveyancing

In order for the conveyancing industry to shed the corrupt and improper practices that have dogged it for years, and which continue to bring it into disrepute, those offering conveyancing services must demonstrate that the services on offer are reliable and of high quality.

The most effective way for a conveyancing consumer to be satisfied that he or she will receive value for money when engaging a conveyancer is to ensure that the conveyancer is a lawyer conveyancer, certified as LAW9000 Legal Best Practice compliant.

Categorised in: Conveyancing

FAQs

How do I choose a solicitor? ›

10 things to consider when choosing a conveyancing solicitor
  1. Are they on your mortgage lender's panel? ...
  2. Fees. ...
  3. Recommendations. ...
  4. Ask your family and friends. ...
  5. Check their credentials. ...
  6. Don't take an estate agent's recommendation. ...
  7. Local knowledge could play a role. ...
  8. Find out your solicitors fee structure.
May 15, 2018

Is it better to use a local solicitor for conveyancing? ›

A solicitor's local knowledge of the area is always something that could prove to be useful and of a benefit to you in your sale, however, conveyancing is very widely done across the country by solicitors/conveyancers for clients as a personal knowledge of the area is not specifically required.

How do I choose a conveyancer Australia? ›

Questions to ask a conveyancer
  1. Are you a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
  2. What types of property do you mainly specialise in?
  3. What will it cost – what are your fees and charges? ...
  4. How will you communicate with me and how often?
  5. On settlement day, what timeframes are we looking at?
Jun 7, 2017

How much are conveyancing fees UK? ›

How much are conveyancing fees? You should expect to pay between £300 to £1500 for conveyancing if you're buying, plus the cost of disbursements. These disbursements could add on up to £700 or even more. However if the property is leasehold you'll usually need to pay around £300 more.

How do I choose a good conveyancer? ›

10 Helpful tips for choosing a conveyancing lawyer
  1. Think about the type of conveyancing service you are buying. ...
  2. Shop Around. ...
  3. Cheapest doesn't necessarily mean best value. ...
  4. Beware of hidden costs, disbursements and VAT. ...
  5. Check what costs you'll have to pay if the sale falls through. ...
  6. Be wary of referrals and recommendations.

What makes a good conveyancer? ›

“A good conveyancer is someone who puts the client's interests first, offers appropriate due diligence and sound advice in a jargon free manner – unfortunately, our job does not always involve providing good news!

Are conveyancers cheaper than solicitors? ›

Solicitors are usually more expensive than conveyancers and are qualified lawyers, so they can offer a full range of legal services. Licenced conveyancers are specialised in property but can't deal with complex legal issues.

Can you negotiate conveyancing fees? ›

You can try to negotiate conveyancing fees but generally, if a quote looks comparatively 'cheap' or a firm is willing to discount, you may find what looks like a short-term gain actually costs you in the end.

Do you need a solicitor and a conveyancer? ›

Solicitors are required to practice as members of The Law Society in the UK. A conveyancer is a specialist in the legal aspects of property sales and purchases. Typically, a conveyancer is less expensive than a solicitor and many large law firms hire conveyancers to offer property services on their behalf.

Should I use the same conveyancer for buying and selling? ›

Yes you can. Keeping your property sale and property purchase in house with the same conveyancer is best practice. Having one separate solicitors for each is possible, but it can make things a little more complicated and confusing in the long run.

Do I need a solicitor before making an offer? ›

Having your solicitor in place before you make an offer on a property will demonstrate to the seller that you are serious about proceeding. If you are obtaining a mortgage you can also ask your lender for a Decision in Principle (DIP).

How quickly can conveyancing be done? ›

On average Conveyancing takes around 12 weeks, but this can be much shorter, with some transactions completing in as little as 4 weeks. On the other hand, it could also take much longer, being delayed by matters outside of your control.

What should a conveyancing quote include? ›

Conveyancing quotes must show a clear breakdown of the legal fees and disbursements. Legal fees are paid to your solicitor or licensed conveyancer for completing the legal work. Disbursements are third-party costs, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and property searches.

Do you pay conveyancing fees upfront? ›

When do I pay conveyancing and legal fees? You might have to pay an upfront deposit when you hire your conveyancer or solicitor, which could be around 10% of their fee. You'll then pay them the final amount once the sale of the house is completed, although you may have to pay for local searches before that.

What do conveyancing fees include? ›

Conveyancers transfer the ownership of a property from one party to another, and you will need one when buying or selling a home. A few common conveyancing fees include land registration fees, transfer fees and local authority searches.

When should you appoint a conveyancer? ›

You should instruct a solicitor to start the residential conveyancing process as soon as your offer has been accepted on the house you intend to buy. However, you can decide who your house conveyancing solicitor is as soon as you start your property search.

How often should you contact your solicitor when buying a house? ›

How often should I chase my solicitor? There's no right or wrong answer to this and it's mainly down to how you feel. There's nothing stopping you from checking in with your solicitor everyday if that's what you feel you want to do.

What should I expect from my conveyancing solicitor? ›

Your solicitor will provide you with terms of engagement (including their fees and the deposits you need to pay), and will then contact your seller's solicitor to obtain a draft contract and the necessary forms and other documents, such as the property title deeds.

Do I have to use a solicitor to buy a house? ›

Your solicitor helps to oversee the legal process of the sale so that ownership is lawfully transferred to you. It's true that you're not legally required to use a solicitor when buying or selling a home, but these days, it's virtually impossible not to use one.

What does no move no fee mean? ›

With no sale no fee conveyancing solicitors, if the sale or purchase of your property falls through you won't pay legal fees. This sales promise from conveyancing solicitors is also sometimes called 'no completion, no fee' or 'no move, no fee'.

What qualifications do you need for conveyancing? ›

You'll need: 6 months' practical experience in a probate or conveyancing practice, in a legal firm or in an organisation offering probate services to the public. to apply for registration with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

How do I find out if a solicitor is good? ›

How to Know if Your Solicitor is Right for You: Top Tips To...
  1. Relationship building. A good solicitor will spend time making you feel at ease. ...
  2. Local knowledge. ...
  3. Personal references. ...
  4. Check for quality. ...
  5. Legal jargon-free. ...
  6. Communication. ...
  7. Fee transparency. ...
  8. Gut feeling.
Mar 1, 2021

What's the difference between lawyer and solicitor? ›

A lawyer is anyone who could give legal advice. So, this term encompasses Solicitors, Barristers, and legal executives. A Solicitor is a lawyer who gives legal advice and represents the clients in the courts. They deal with business matters, contracts, conveyance, wills, inheritance, etc.

How much does it cost for a solicitor to represent you in court UK? ›

A solicitor's fee for setting one up will usually range from about £500 for the simplest kind to around £800. If you're seeking a divorce, or your spouse is divorcing you, then you can ensure a fair financial settlement with the help of a financial adviser.

What is the difference between a solicitor and an attorney? ›

Essentially a lawyer and a solicitor mean the same thing. Lawyer is a term used to describe anyone who is licensed and can give legal advice to a business, organisation or an individual.

Videos

1. Conveyancers: Do You Need To Use One? (Australia)
(Lendi)
2. Attorneys, Notaries & Conveyancers - What's the difference?
(Jonathan Daniels)
3. Amanda Weir - Lawyer vs Solicitor vs Conveyancer
(Amanda Weir)
4. What is a Conveyancer [and what do they do?]
(Mortgage Broker Australia - Hunter Galloway)
5. HOW TO CHOOSE CONVEYANCER OR PROPERTY SOLICITOR? Which Solicitor is Right For You? Top 5 Tips
(Ash Ajaz)
6. CLC webinar with Damar Training: All about Conveyancing (Property) Law qualifications (11.01.17)
(Damar Training OnAir)

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