Conveyancing Handbook (27th edition)
£110, Law Society
Delayed by Covid-19 restrictions, the latest edition of the Conveyancing Handbook has now hit the bookshelves. First published in 1992, the handbook continues to provide the busy conveyancer with a practical guide to everyday issues, with the relevant law either set out or referenced.
Invariably considered by the courts to contain ‘best practice’, the conveyancer adopts their own different course in any given situation at their peril.
A weighty tome at nearly 1,500 pages, it is not bedtime reading but deserves a place in every conveyancing firm’s office, if not on every conveyancer’s desk.
Rather than making the conveyancer’s life simpler, the digital world has opened up a wealth of information that once obtained cannot be ignored or simply copied to the client, as highlighted in Orientfield Holdings Ltd v Bird and Bird LLP, referenced on p367. Although it is only a single sentence in the book, it belies the importance of the guidance given, while the model property reports contained in the appendices provide an invaluable precedent as to the information which should be reported to a client.
Two of the greatest challenges facing conveyancers today are the risks associated with fraud and money laundering.
Detailed advice is given on both topics. The cases of Dreamvar and P & P Property Ltd are considered, alongside practical advice about matters which the conveyancer should consider in assessing the risks which may be associated with the transaction.
The handbook reflects the new SRA Code of Conduct and contains several Law Society practice notes which are key for the conveyancer.
If there is to be a criticism, it must be that such is the sheer volume of information contained it is not always easy to immediately find the guidance you seek. Moreover, the speed of change in the property world is such that reference will always need to be made to the Law Society website for any updates that may have been added post-publication.
An online, searchable version that is periodically updated would be a major enhancement. Although updated annually, earlier editions of the handbook should always be retained to ascertain what was ‘best practice’ in previous years.
Peter Rodd is Law Society Council member for residential conveyancing and a member of the Conveyancing and Land Law Committee