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Hi everyone, I am buying a property (freehold house) being sold by an executor as the owner has died. My solicitor is refusing to validate the ID of the seller and in his words "cannot be liable for vendor fraud" if the seller is not who they say they are. Copy of the solicitor report below. I am very concerned this leaves me with no protection against fraud. I wonder if this is a standard approach adopted by all solicitors to protect themselves whereas I am paying this solicitor to ensure I am protected against fraud!
"We request that the vendor's solicitor verify the identity of their client to ensure they are indeed the person they claim to be and they authority to be able to sell the property. Note that as we are not instructed by the vendor and are therefore unable to identify the vendor ourselves, we are instead relying on practices of the firm representing them. The vendor's solicitors do not act for you and you cannot put any reliance on this. We accept no liability for any losses incurred should it later transpire that the vendor is, in fact, a fraudster and did not legally own the property."
Your solicitor's stance is the standard approach. As they state, the seller is not their client; it is incumbent on the seller's solicitor to verify the identity of their client in the same way that your solicitor will verify your identity.
Has something happened to raise concerns about the real identity of the seller?
I have read about vendor fraud in the news and the fact that if my solicitor cannot confirm if the vendor is who they say they are, I have no recourse if it turns out the vendor is fraudulent? I do not have a smoking gun but then the property is empty and there are instances of fraudulent behaviour where the seller purports to be the owner. I know the owner is no more but surely the solicitor should indemnify me against fraud? Instead, they rely on the seller's solicitor who has no duty of care to me! Surely one prime reason to use a solicitor is to make sure the transaction is legal?
A solicitor can loose his job and be fined heavily if he does not validate the vendor and therefore solicitors can “relay” on each other’s. Each solicitor should also have an insurance in place to cover any wrongdoing by them.
if the vendor and solicitor is fraudulent you could have a problem, but there are certain checks your solicitor does to make sure the name matches etc. And all is ok.