Anyone like me who has worked in conveyancing for 36 years will have seen a dramatic amount of change. When I started out in 1988, we sent everything by fax machine. Now I can present webinars to participants from across the globe from my office at home, something which would have been unimaginable to me when I first qualified. It’s a whole new world and younger conveyancers would view a fax machine as a museum piece.

Mark Sellers

Mark Sellers

Change, while rarely popular at first, is an inevitable part of working as a property lawyer. While we may not always like it, when you look how far the profession has changed since I started, you see that we learn to manage it and to embrace it in order to thrive.

It might be nice to think of the role of the conveyancing solicitor staying like it used to be, in the halcyon days, but the reality is it has constantly evolved and will continue to do so.

The evolution of the home buying and selling process has been driven not just by technology but by government policy and consumer need. Change is everywhere we look at the moment, from leasehold reform to whether commonhold will come back to the Building Safety Act and new code for completion.

One area where we have long recognised the public policy direction of travel is the provision of material information for consumers early in the conveyancing process. National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) guidance for material information was issued in 2023, based on existing legislation. It is part of a real drive to make the process better for all those involved, allowing consumers to make an informed decision before viewing a property or making an offer and reducing the number of aborted transactions and gazumping. Consumers support more upfront material information.

The NSELAT guidance is not optional to follow, it is something that needs to be done. These are regulatory requirements. We may or may not agree with all the information that is in the trading standards guidance, but we must respond to that in the property forms. Maintaining the status quo was not an option here, we could not leave the TA6 as it was. We had to tackle the guidance head-on as others in the industry including Rightmove have already done.

My own experience of using the updated TA6 forms is that they are quite easy to use, not that much different or more onerous than the previous ones. While there are additional questions, they are not particularly controversial and often don’t need to be answered. The number of questions that a seller is required to complete will depend on the individual property and may in practice be much fewer than the total number in the updated TA6. For example, if the property is freehold rather than leasehold and doesn’t have any solar panels, then the seller will be able to omit 20% of the questions asked in the updated TA6. In most cases, we are talking a few minutes extra work to meet our regulatory requirements and ensure clients have the information they need.

As a fellow panellist at the Law Society’s conveyancing convention observed, the new guidance recommends that conveyancing solicitors are instructed much earlier in the home buying and selling process. This is something conveyancers have been asking to happen for decades. The change in chronology of when solicitors get involved in the process is an opportunity for us and we need to embrace it.

Thousands of the updated TA6 forms have already been used and the Law Society has allayed fears that they may increase solicitor’s liability with specialist advice saying these concerns are unfounded.

Like the home buying and selling process itself, the TA6 forms have always evolved and will continue to do so.


Mark Sellers is a member of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee