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Risk Agenda 2024 Published

4 July, 2024

The annual publication brings together a list of the biggest risks faced by the CLC’s regulated community, which emerge during the regulator’s monitoring and inspection work throughout the year, along with advice to help practices stay on the right side of compliance.

Areas covered in the 2024 edition include anti-money laundering, sanctions, conflicts of interest, the Accounts Code, post-completion work and complaints handling.

Post-completion work is a new addition to the Risk Agenda this year. It is becoming a growing concern for the CLC as these failures are sometimes only identified years later, causing significant risk, stress and delays to consumers and other interested parties.

While there may be delays at HM Land Registry, these are made worse by slow or sloppy title change applications from conveyancers. The Risk Agenda says: “The data that the CLC receives from HM Land Registry on requisition rates gives cause for concern that some practices are not taking their responsibility seriously or are using HM Land Registry to check their work rather than making an effort to ensure that it is accurate to begin with. 

“Some seem to treat post-completion matters as an afterthought as it is undertaken after they collect their fee. The reality is that clients have been charged for this work and there is an obligation to perform it promptly and with diligence. Taking the fee and not completing the work is a breach of the Accounts Code and demonstrates a lack of integrity.”

An absence of post-completion processes could also be feeding into the problem identified for the first time last year of failures to comply with undertakings. The CLC has recently published a new Advisory Note on the subject.

“While we understand that sometimes an individual breach is due to the action/inaction of a third party – such as a lender or management company – the CLC is increasing its activity on this issue and tracking practices where we are seeing repeated or systemic breaches,” the Risk Outlook says. “Problems can emerge from practices not having proper processes in place post-completion or even to provide undertakings in the first place.”

The CLC will this year be reviewing the Complaints Code in light of new guidance from the Legal Services Board and also conducting a deep dive on complaints handling in 2024, focused on those practices that are responsible for a disproportionate number of referrals to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO).

Complaints handling is important in and of itself but practitioners need to remember that it also impacts on the cost of regulation; last year it made up just shy of £1m of the CLC’s budget of £3.56m, even though more than six in ten CLC practices do not generate complaints to LeO.

CLC chief executive Sheila Kumar says: “The good news for consumers is that licensed conveyancers are dedicated professionals who our monitoring shows provide excellent services under often stressful circumstances. But trip wires abound in the modern legal landscape and the Risk Agenda is part of our work to ensure the lawyers the CLC regulates not fall over them.”