Increase in conveyancing work by British law firms

The amount of conveyancing work undertaken by legal practices and conveyancers in Britain has risen 15 per cent over the last year, according to property search provider SearchFlow.

The firm conducted a national survey of conveyancing and legal firms and found the majority of solicitors have seen their conveyancing workloads increase over the last year.

Nearly two thirds of firms reported a rise over the last twelve months while only seven per cent have seen levels fall.

However, the rise in workloads doesn’t mirror the number of property transactions taking place in the market.

According to the latest Land Registry House Price Index, sales are down three per cent year-on-year.

Nearly three quarters of firms believe increased legal practice compliance has led to a rise in the amount of work their businesses need to do in order to maintain their standards. 

Only a fifth of firms bolstered resources in order to meet the increased requirements with nearly half of firms are managing this increased workload with the same resource.

Marshall King, chief executive of SearchFlow, said: “The fact that firms are not yet taking on resource indicates that the recovery is still seen as fragile. The combination of the rise in workload and increased compliance requirements mean firms need to ensure their processes and procedures are as streamlined and efficient as possible.”

More than a quarter of solicitors and conveyancers expect the main threat to the industry in the next 12 months to come from lenders’ panel selection decisions.

Despite initial fears regarding the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), legal firms don’t yet regard them as an immediate threat. Just 13 per cent of firms felt ABSs were a significant threat to their business.

A fifth felt the weak property market posed the greatest threat – a threat that might increase should artificial props such as low interest rates and Funding for Lending be removed.  And 15 per cent felt the increasing cost of insurance would have the biggest impact this year.

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