So here we are fifteen years into the twenty-first century. You can email, tweet, Skype and no doubt do several other amazing things with technology to aid efficient communication but apparently if you’re a solicitor who is doing conveyancing on a property you must use the postal service and you must never, ever, ever use your phone – especially if the person you need to contact is the person who is doing the other end of the conveyancing and certainly not apply anything as daring as an email unless forced – apparently. Important documents etc etc blah blah blah. Obviously this is not directed at all solicitors- I know there’re some very technologically savvy ones out there….said the woman with lawyers in the family.
Common sense would dictate if the buyer is giving notice on their rented home and needs to move by the middle of May – or put more succinctly in three weeks time that somewhere along the line you’d think to contact the other solicitor to check that all was going well because after all, if it isn’t, your client could be homeless. You might even email the list of queries so that, although the document has to go by post, the person on the other end of the conveyancing seesaw can be getting on with it.
However, common sense- and perhaps a smidge of human decency- is not an essential professional requirement so although the buyer knew what was happening, the buy’s solicitor knew what was happening as indeed did the estate agent as of Friday because the buyer informed them – we didn’t because our solicitor knew nothing, zilch, nada, zero. Ignorance is, as they say, bliss.
It was only on Monday when I needed to phone the estate agent that I found out that I was probably going to exchange and complete on the same day – soon. This resulted in a frenzy of telephone calls with the news that my solicitor had received nothing in the way of queries. Communication was stalled. It’s taken until today – bearing in mind that both solicitors are aware of the urgency of the situation- for someone to use an email having ascertained that the correspondence was put in the post on Monday. The aforementioned letter still hadn’t arrived today, so perhaps not posted first thing on Monday morning then? And perhaps not tracked next day delivery postage either? Perhaps their definition of urgent and mine differ?
Of course, in addition both parties are covering their backs – as in ‘it’s their fault.’ I don’t know whose fault it is and actually I don’t particularly care. If you do the maths quite a large sum of money is being expended so that two lawyers can perform a routine and , in this case, relatively simple transaction. There is no chain at either end. So where is the problem? It lies in the word ‘routine.’ It’s exactly what’s been followed unerringly and in at least one case without thought.
No doubt I shall have to scurry like some kind of mad ferret to the solicitor’s office with a hitherto unknown vital piece of paper to answer a question that’s arisen but that’s ok because I’m not charging a large fee for the privilege of being a professional. If I were, no doubt I would have to use the postal service having first typed my response and left it for the office junior to deal with.