Scottish separate representation vote likely to be close
Consultation results from a Law Society of Scotland Survey on the issue of mandatory separate legal representation for buyers and their mortgage lender in property transactions show voting is likely to be close when members vote for change at a special general meeting in September.
Responses to the consultation were 49% in favour of, and 51% against, the proposed rule change which would have the effect of requiring borrowers and lenders to each have their own solicitor. Currently the same solicitor can act for both buyer and lender.
Alistair Morris, Vice President of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
“Given the many changes that have happened in the property market, this has been an essential debate to have. For most of us buying a home is the biggest purchase we will ever make and it’s important that people get the legal advice they need, that their interests are protected and that solicitors are not compromised in representing their clients.”
Mr Morris said that appetite for a change to the existing rules has grown in recent years. He said:
“There has been tremendous change within the property market since the financial downturn and as a result many lenders have introduced new requirements on solicitors representing the borrower, which has led to a significant move away from the ‘execution only’ approach of the past. Many solicitors now believe that the interests of the buyer client and their mortgage lender are no longer in alignment so, in order to represent their clients fairly and with true independence, there should be mandatory separate representation in both commercial and residential property transactions.
“It is the buyer who pays the fees and should be able to have absolute confidence and trust that their solicitor will put his or her interests first, rather than those of their mortgage lender who can have different requirements which need to be met.”
For more information about separate representation and the proposed rule change see the Scottish Law Society website at www.lawscot.org.uk/seprep