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Confidentiality and Conveyancing
Our duty to our clients to maintain their confidentiality is absolute, or nearly so. In a house purchase, we are often instructed by a lay client, and at the same time by a lender. We then have duties to both clients. Conveyancing depends upon a substantial degree of mutual co-operation.
With lenders, it is clearly our duty to report to a lender any circumstance about the transaction which might affect their decision to lend. It is not possible to list completely the circumstances in which such disclosure might be required, but often it would be some arrangement between the vendor, and the purchaser which affects the purchase price. If the circumstance will not affect the lender's decision, then no harm is done by the disclosure. If we conclude that the lender's decision might be affected by the circumstance, then we would have a duty to inform the lender. Very occasionally a conflict will arise between the lay client and the lender where other rules will apply.
In the general run of conveyancing, it is common also for us to be asked, and to ask on your behalf, about matters such as the progress of mortgage applications, and other circumstances which will affect a conveyance. The very process of conveyancing involves the asking, and answering, of many questions between solicitors about the properties, and the clients. It is a process of enquiry and disclosure.
There are no hard and fast guide-lines as to what can be disclosed. We hope that our decisions will be made with common sense, starting from the prime requirement of confidentiality. In particular, if anything sensitive might need to be be disclosed, we will make sure that you know of the disclosure, and in most circumstances we will ask for your specific consent first before making the disclosure.
This is important. We are happy to discuss it with you at any time. We will assume that we have your authority to disclose non-sensitive material to someone else, within the transaction and who has a proper interest. We ask you to be sure to let us know immediately if you wish, as you are quite free to do, to restrict this discretion.
Please note now also that we must operate within the Money Laundering laws. These can require us to report to the police any transaction which we consider to be suspicious. To be fair, if we had the faintest idea that a client might be asking us to do souch a thing we would not be involved to begin with.
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