The reasons why solicitors are nosy and look into people's businesses

“Solicitors are inherently nosy. They are always poking into people’s businesses for no good reason”.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 1:00 pm

Whilst that may well be true it actually is not the reason that particularly in conveyancing transactions solicitors and other conveyancers ask lots of questions of their clients.

The real answer is the Money Laundering Regulations.

The government believe that criminals will try to hide their ill-gotten gains by buying houses. Illegal money is often called dirty money and the expression explains how you wash the dirty money by buying a house and thereby creating clean money when you sell the house.

Because most conveyancing transactions take place through solicitors, the government decided that they would place an unusual requirement on solicitors and they decided to enforce that requirement by making solicitors guilty of crimes if they launder money either deliberately or recklessly. Solicitors have been sent to prison for just this.

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The first thing a solicitor has to do is check the person instructing him is who they say they are. My firm acts for a lot of clients in conveyancing matters where they never come into the office at all because it is convenient for them not to do so.

If your solicitor still requires you to bring in your ID for them to certify please do so because the solicitor is only doing his job. Having satisfied themselves that you are who you say you are then your solicitor must satisfy themselves that there is nothing suspicious in where the money is coming from. Again I have sophisticated systems of checking this but usually solicitors require you to tell them where the money is coming from.

If the solicitors has suspicions that something is not right then likely they will ask more questions. If you refuse to provide the information then the solicitor should not act for you. Usually if you do not give satisfaction answers or if you refuse to give answers at all, all your solicitor needs to do is to refuse to act for you.

There is a more extreme example. If you put your solicitor in an impossible position such that they have to go ahead with the transaction and they are still suspicious about you then the solicitor must report you to the police. If your solicitor does not report you to the police then the solicitor commits a crime. If having reported you to the police the solicitor goes and tells you that they have done it then they commit a crime.

The moral of the story? Innocent people should be patient with their solicitors. And this is why.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm is the largest full-service firm of solicitors in Teesside, assisting clients in personal injury, wills & probate, corporate and commercial, criminal and family law matters. Call us on 01429 350062.