Of solicitors and single surveys

We have earlier noted that the economic slowdown and its impact on the Scottish housing market may not be the best time to introduce the new single survey and home reports.  The problem of timing is exacerbated when the market has responded to one of the motivations underlying the introduction of the single survey, namely concerns about unsuccessful purchasers incurring expenditure on multiple surveys, through the introduction of offers subject to survey.

Against the difficult economic background and the legal profession is mobilising against the single survey in particular.  The Scottish Law Agents Society – particularly through its conveyancing committee, convened by Ken Swinton, from the University of Abertay, with the regular media presence of Ian C Ferguson, of Messrs Mitchells Roberton, Glasgow – has been particularly vociferous in its criticisms of the proposals.  The SLAS published a leaflet on the home report scheme – – “The truth about home reports” and has raised numerous issues about the implementation of the scheme.  Summary of a number of the SLAS criticisms here, but a search of the SLAS news pages reveals numerous other stories. 

The SLAS tabled at a motion calling for the suspension of home reports at a special general meeting of the Law Society of Scotland on 26th September 2008.  The motion was carried by an astonishingly large margin of 2,052 to 52. 

Responding to the vote Ken Swinton said,

“This is dynamite.  With this massive vote against Home Reports, lawyers have sent a firm message to the Scottish Government that they are unwelcome in the present financial environment. Solicitors believe Home Reports will destroy the already-fragile Scottish property market at a time when, according to an assessment by Lloyds TSB earlier this week, the Scottish economy is “grinding to a halt”. Solicitors have approved the anti-Single Survey stance that The Law Society of Scotland has taken throughout discussions on the scheme.  Furthermore, they have urged the Law Society to keep fighting against Home Reports in the hope that they can be delayed from 1 December, 2008. Our own Society will also keep fighting in the knowledge that our members and, indeed, non-members, are fully behind us and approve of us taking the lead on this”.  There is anger that solicitors, the professionals whose job it is to advise clients with regard to the type of survey that should be instructed and accepted, have been ignored.”

Despite the vote Home Reports remain scheduled to be introduced on 1st December 2008.