I.D. is not just OTT – Residential Property

Understanding why your solicitor needs to know who you are and be provided with appropriate documentation

Providing your identification documents may seem like a tedious ‘tick box’ to do task. However, with the increasing burden on law firms to identify, and establish, who their clients are this is an exercise that is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly.

This ‘red-tape’ requirement is not your solicitor being difficult – there is always a good reason for carrying out these matters – and firms have had to learn hard lessons because of this! You may recall recent case law of Dreamvar (UK) Ltd v Mishcon de Reya [2018], P&P Property Ltd v Owen White and Catlin LLP [2018] and, similarly, Purrunsing v A’ Court and another [2016], which have demonstrated the risks in selling and buying properties and fraudsters pretending to be another person for that property transaction. It is the obligation on both the Buyers, and Sellers, solicitor to ensure that they carry out due diligence and investigate ownership of property, as even if a party has not acted negligently, they may still be held liable and can have very serious implications for solicitors and their firm.

It is the duty, of a solicitor, to ensure that they know their client and that you are who you say you are. Solicitors have to be assured that they can act for you and legitimately conduct work/continue with the transaction on your behalf. Just like we have to establish who we are to our clients, clients are also required to prove themselves to us. For example, would you want just anybody acting on your behalf, on a potentially costly and important legal matter, or with possibly the biggest financial transaction you will make (in the purchase of a property for example) or would you want to ensure that you have a qualified professional, with experience in that matter, acting on your behalf?

Even if you have been a long, established client of the firm it is the duty, and a requirement, of a solicitor’s legal obligations, as professional practitioners, to ensure the client provides evidence of their identity, that it is in date, and the client has been met in person. Are you who you say you are? If so, how can you prove it?

You will typically be asked for photo identification (such as Passport or Driver’s Licence) in order that we can verify the document, when we see you in person, and clarify that the photo evidence represents a true likeness. Separate residency identification (such as a Bank Statement or utility bill) will be required to demonstrate evidence as to where you live. If this documentation is provided at an early stage, of your matter/transaction, it will be easier to progress with your case. Providing identification documentation is essential to your solicitor being able to conduct any work on your behalf and will be the basis of initial instructions. Solicitors simply cannot proceed without it.

Particularly, with the very real reality of ‘Friday Afternoon Fraud’. Careful consideration counts!

For further advice please contact Amy Gold-Mellish on 01562 512498 or agold-mellish@thursfields.co.uk

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