Beware Identity Theft in Property Sales

March 30, 2017

Agents and conveyancing solicitors should be on high alert following a judgment finding a well known English firm strictly liable for breach of trust in a property fraud case involving identity theft of the seller. The firm acted for the purchaser of a London property however following completion it transpired that the seller was in fact a tenant masquerading as the property owner.

The claim against the conveyancing firm was based on the firm’s alleged failure to seek an undertaking from the purported seller’s solicitor regarding their checks to establish the client’s identity. A claim for negligence against the firm was unsuccessful however the firm was held strictly liable for a breach of trust.  Despite permission being granted to appeal, the case highlights the very real need for solicitors’ firms to have in place conveyancing risk mitigation strategies so as the identity of parties to a transaction can be verified.  Robust client and transaction vetting processes should be in place.

The above article is for information purposes and should not be relied upon without seeking further professional advice. For any property related queries please contact the Property Team or Patricia Cronin at p.cronin@cfrlaw.co.uk.