Our Conveyancing Protocol is a set of steps to follow when acting in the sale and/or purchase of a home for an owner-occupier.
You can use the protocol in residential transactions of freehold and leasehold property. The protocol is not designed to be used in the purchase of new build homes.
Using the protocol helps to:
- standardise the residential conveyancing process
- make conveyancing more transparent and efficient
- improve the experience for solicitors, lenders and clients
The protocol is not a checklist and its steps are not exhaustive. You can complete the steps in a different order or simultaneously.
The protocol assumes that:
- the buyer and seller both have mortgage lenders
- you act for the lender as well as the client
The Conveyancing Protocol can be used by:
- those licensed by an appropriate professional body to undertake conveyancing
The protocol contains professional obligations, so someone senior in your practice should make the decision whether to use it.
Your obligation to act in your client’s best interests takes priority over the protocol.
Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited practitioners must follow the protocol. You should comply with its terms in all conveyancing transactions.
There may be exceptions if any of the following take priority:
- the nature of the transaction
- instructions from your client
- changes in regulation, statute or case law
If you need to stop using the protocol, make an explanatory note in your client’s file.
If you’re not CQS-accredited you do not have to use the protocol, but it’s considered best practice to follow it as closely as possible.
For the protocol to be fully effective, you need to agree to use it with the other party’s solicitor. You can still use the protocol if the other solicitor does not agree to follow it.
When you use the protocol, you agree to use the most up-to-date version of the:
- Standard Conditions of Sale
- Code for Completion by Post
- property forms
- formulae for exchanging contracts
and accompanying guidance published by the Law Society or such approved equivalent publications as may be notified by the Law Society through periodic updates made on the website. Take care to check the website regularly.
Standard Conditions of Sale
Not all the standard conditions will be appropriate for use in every transaction. When deciding if they should apply:
- use your knowledge and professional judgement to act in your client’s best interests
- only make amendments that are essential to fit the circumstances
You should not make routine amendments of the standard conditions.
Code for Completion by Post
The code automatically applies when you use the protocol.
Any variation to the code must be in writing. You should only vary the code if your client instructs you to. Any amendments should be specific to the transaction’s needs.
If you’re acting for the buyer and the seller’s solicitor has not completed the forms, you can make additional enquiries that are relevant to and necessary for the transaction.
You should only make enquiries that are essential to help you to act in your client’s best interests. These should be balanced with your firm's decision to follow the protocol.
You could breach the protocol if you make:
- indiscriminate use of ‘standard’ additional enquiries
- enquiries seeking the seller’s opinion rather than fact
The seller's solicitor does not have to deal with any enquiries that are in breach of the protocol.
The Conveyancing Protocol 2019 took effect on 19 August 2019. It replaced the 2011 edition.
Updates to the protocol
We updated the Conveyancing Protocol in response to the:
- CQS Core Practice Management Standards
- Court of Appeal decision in Dreamvar  EWCA Civ 1082
- SRA Transparency Rules
- government’s consultations on the home buying and selling process and leasehold system
- revised Code for Completion by Post
The updates are intended to:
- remind you of your obligations
- reduce the risk of fraud
- increase the efficiency of the process
We reduced the number of steps that make up each stage, but your obligations under the protocol remain the same.
Many conveyancing transactions now take place digitally. The updated protocol includes a reminder that documents sent by email must be clearly identifiable and sent separately.
The stamp duty land tax regime has become increasingly complicated. The updated protocol recommends that you seek specialist tax advice if necessary.
Conveyancers must be aware of the risk of transaction fraud, phishing and email scams. The updated protocol explains the steps you can take to protect your organisation and clients.
The updates highlight that you should only add special conditions to the contract in agreed circumstances. You should not make unnecessary enquiries of the other party’s conveyancer.