From time to time we receive requests from agents that we should act for both parties in a conveyance. The argument from the agent’s point of view is usually that it is a “straightforward” deal, there are no complications and it will be an “easy” conveyance.
Whilst most conveyance do get settled without any major complications it is always the one that goes wrong which can cause major claims between parties.
The Qld Law Society has strict rules on when a lawyer may act for both parties in exceptional circumstances. Both the Law Society and the professional indemnity insurers however have made it abundantly clear that lawyers must not act for both parties in a conveyance.
The purchase of a property is usually a life-long investment and it is not worthwhile to risk this investment only to save on legal fees.
There are conveyancers and unfortunately lawyers in the market who have no issue in acting for both parties. Our litigation department is currently involved with a few matters where the conveyance did not go smoothly and the parties are now suing each other for damages based on misrepresentations that were made to them prior to the signing of the Contract.
In all these cases conveyancers acted for both parties and could not assist in an attempt to resolve the issues between the parties because of a conflict of interest.
In one specific matter, the one party has indicated he was persuaded by the agent to use the same conveyancer as the other party and is considering joining the agent as a defendant in the proceedings.
Our advice to agents is to never suggest to parties to use the same conveyancers/lawyers and in fact to discourage parties who are considering doing this. We believe agents must act in the best interest of their principal and to allow the same conveyancer to act for the other party will not be in the best interest of their principal. In fact, the cases we are currently involved in show that it was not in the interest of either party to be represented by the same conveyancer.
Should agents receive requests from parties to use the same conveyancer/lawyer we strongly recommend agents advise both parties first to get independent legal advice before deciding to use only one conveyancer/lawyer.
Please contact our Property and Commercial Department on 07 5536 9777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any assistance you may require in this regard.