Q: I’m confused – what’s the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer? I’m buying and selling, so which should I use?
Seeing as the legal process of buying and selling property is called conveyancing, it would make sense that it should be more appropriate to appoint a conveyancer, but there actually isn’t all that much difference between a Conveyancing Solicitor and a Licensed Conveyancer, in that they are both regulated professionals specialising in the conveyancing process.
The main point of difference is that solicitors are qualified to degree level and will have spent a total of seven to eight years training in a variety of legal fields. Once qualified, they can choose to specialise in a specific area of law, for example property law, or they can practice in a wider range of areas. Licensed Conveyancers, however, are specialised in the conveyancing process and will have undergone a series of rigorous examinations to obtain their conveyancing qualifications.
So, a Licensed Conveyancer provides legal services related solely to property or land transactions, whereas a Conveyancing Solicitor specialises in conveyancing and property law, but could offer advice on a broader range of law matters and would be a more suitable choice of there are related issues, such as probate or divorce. If there are no related legal matters, then both have all the necessary legal expertise to handle your move.
It is worth mentioning that Licensed Conveyancers can act on both sides of a transaction, representing both the buyer and the seller, whereas a Conveyancing Solicitor isn’t allowed – this is a controversial difference as a conflict of interests between parties is not uncommon so it is argued that one conveyancer cannot fairly represent both opposing sides.
One last point (one that makes no difference to you and I) is that they have different regulating bodies, both, however, with a similar Code of Conduct. Solicitors must be registered with the Law Society and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), whereas Licensed Conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
So, if there are no other legal matters related to your transaction, I recommend asking friends and family for their recommendations. If you can, try to get a no sale-no fee, fixed price deal as very often property transactions aren’t simple and at least you’ll know what you’ll be paying, however much work is involved.