A comprehensive and cost-free checklist to check a property’s title when buying a domestic property is the winner of this year’s Innovation Cup.

Ashley Swanson, a solicitor in Aberdeen, impressed the judges with his proposal of a manual checklist for use by practitioners undertaking property transactions, with a particular focus on avoiding mistakes in the title, winning the £1,500 cash prize provided by RSA.

The Innovation Cup is run jointly by the Law Society of Scotland, Master Policy Insurers, RSA and brokers, Lockton. The competition aims to inspire new risk management solutions from within the profession. It is open to legal professionals and law students who are invited to share their bright ideas for risk management processes and strategies.

Murray Etherington, convener of the Law Society of Scotland Insurance Committee, said: “We were really impressed by the simplicity of a checklist that has been developed over decades of practice. Buying a property is one of the most stressful things that someone can do in their lifetime, so it’s imperative that solicitors get it right. This simple tool will focus practitioners’ attention on risks that could give rise to a claim/complaint. Mr Swanson gave a great example in his submission where a property’s title covered only one floor of a duplex apartment. Such a mistake could give rise to a claim under the Master Policy so this checklist would avoid that happening.”

Edward Ambrose, UK Head of Professional Indemnity for RSA, said: “We were very impressed with Ashley’s idea for this simple checklist. The fact this is a non-computerised solution makes it accessible to all and extremely easy to implement, thus avoiding the need for higher-cost systems which all firms may not be able to invest in. Ashley was passionate about the checklist being made free of charge to practitioners, and also offered ideas on how it could be developed further to cover more than just the examination of title. Overall, a really great submission and congratulations to Ashley!”

Ashley Swanson said: “I am delighted to have won this year’s Innovation Cup. Examination of title should be at the very heart of a purchase transaction and my checklist is designed to address all of the relevant points which need to be considered to highlight any shortcomings in the title being examined. It is a tried and trusted, cost free method, which I am very happy to make available to the profession.”

The checklist will now be formally developed by Lockton and be made available to members.

Entries were judged by members of the Law Society Insurance Committee, along with representatives from RSA and Lockton. Nine entries were received, with three being shortlisted to present to the judging panel.


Risk management at the heart of legal profession competition

The search for the latest ‘light bulb’ idea in risk management within the Scottish legal sector has been launched today. The Innovation Cup aims to tap into the expertise of the Scottish legal community and improve risk management across the profession. The Law Society of Scotland is running the competition in association with Master Policy lead insurers RSA and brokers, Lockton.