Whenever I pick up an apparent fault in a title my heart sinks. I might only be doing my job, but there is a distinct possibility that when the matter is broached with the selling solicitors they will go straight into denial. The response will be bluster and indignation. I will be told that I am talking nonsense. I will be asked why I am casting up something which no other solicitor has mentioned before. In short my title query will be about as welcome as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip.

Seen from the point of view of the selling solicitors, a genuine title fault may generate considerable additional work which will erode an already slim profit margin on the fee, and there is also the potential embarrassment for the firm of having to explain to the seller why the fault was not noticed at the time of their original purchase. There is no excuse however for refusing to recognise that there may be a problem in the first place and hoping that the imminence of the entry date or the purchaser’s enthusiasm for the property will persuade me to waive my objection.

The advent of land registration has not entirely eliminated troublesome titles, and the deep seated reluctance on the part of some solicitors to get right down to the nuts and bolts of conveyancing is a worrying trend.

Conveyancing is not a conventional manufacturing process, but there are end products. For the clients this is a set of keys for their new house. For the purchasing solicitor it should be a title which will be beyond challenge when the house comes to be sold again in the fullness of time.

Target rifle shooters take the view that the object is not so much to hit the target but to avoid missing it. Conveyancers would do well to try to appreciate the subtle difference.

Ashley J Swanson,
K W A D, Aberdeen