Following a string of recent fraud cases and identity theft by bogus law firms, solicitors acting for purchasers are warned to be vigilant when acting in a conveyancing transaction where they are not familiar with the solicitors acting for a purported seller.

In the recent 2012 cases of Lloyds Bank Plc v Markandan & Uddin and Nationwide Building Society v Davisons Solicitors, the purchasing solicitors fell foul of fraudsters purporting to write from a branch of a genuine firm. Upon completion of the transactions, the completion monies were transferred to the imposters who then disappeared. As a result, the properties were not transferred into the name of the purchasers and the mortgagees were not able to obtain a first legal charge.

In the latter case, the correspondence from the sham branch used the name of a legitimate solicitor who worked for the bona fide firm and was registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In both cases the purchasing solicitors were pursued by the mortgagees for breach of trust. The courts in both instances advised that best practice must be employed where there is any doubt of the validity of a branch or firm and the purchasing solicitors must carry out due diligence on that firm by conducting searches with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Law Society and ‘entity checkers’ offered by search providers.

If you would like any further information about this issue, please contact us by emailing stephen.brower@edwincoe.com.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales (No. OC326366) and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, London WC2A 3TH. "Partner" denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing. Our privacy notice which we are obliged to give you under the GDPR is available here.

Please also see a copy of our terms of use here in respect of our website which apply also to all of our blogs.

Latest Blogs See All

Share by: