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Let the buyer (buyer's solicitor) beware!

View profile for Liam Waine
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When anyone is purchasing a house there is a long held maxim that has stood the test of time called 'caveat emptor'. This is a Latin legal phrase which basically translates to 'let the buyer beware'.

As a professional negligence lawyer I have come across and dealt with many solicitors negligence cases most of which have involved negligent actions/in-actions of a buyer’s solicitor in a residential property transaction. Although it is for the buyer to satisfy themselves before they commit to a purchase they normally make such decisions with the help of a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. During the purchase transaction there will be a whole host of searches and reports to gather to allow a potential purchaser to make an informed decision on whether to go through with the purchase. If one of the reports or searches reveals something which would adversely affect the property then a purchaser would have an opportunity to withdraw from the transaction or negotiate a reduction on the purchase price. If the information obtained by a purchaser’s solicitor is not subsequently passed on to the purchaser then the solicitor could find themselves on the wrong end of a negligence action brought against them. 

A recent reported case of Orientfield Holdings Ltd v Bird v Bird LLP [2015] illustrated this issue and highlighted the importance of the duties owed to a purchaser of a residential property by a solicitor. The solicitors for the purchaser in this transaction failed to pass on information within a Plansearch Plus report confirming that a nearby school was being developed into a larger school. The court held that it was a breach of duty for failing to pass on the information contained in the Plansearch Plus report which adversely affected the property. This case is certainly a warning to solicitors and licensed conveyancers who deal with purchases to make sure that all information is passed onto a client before exchange of contracts.

If you think you have been subject to negligence by a solicitor contact our dispute resolution team who have specialist professional negligence solicitors to assist with your enquiry. Call us on 0333 344 4772.

By professional negligence solicitor, Liam Waine

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