Can my Solicitor act for the Buyer and the seller at the same time?

The general answer is no. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Law Society have strict rules in place to avoid what they call ‘conflicts of interest’. This is to ensure that the solicitor acting for you always acts in your best interests and puts you first.

In very exceptional circumstances however the solicitor will be permitted to act for the buyer and seller but only when this will be for the benefit of both parties. This tends to be where the buyer does not need a mortgage and where the solicitor can show that both parties are aware of the potential conflict but will agree that they wish the firm to act for them both. The regulations require that this can only be considered where the seller and buyer are already long standing existing clients of the firm and where it can be clear that both parties are aware of the risks. The same solicitor will not be permitted to act for both parties and each solicitor will have to be separately supervised to ensure that they are not privy to personal information about the other client which they would not normally have access to if the client was represented by a solicitor outside of the firm.

In addition the solicitors are not permitted to negotiate on behalf of their clients. Therefore any issues regarding price, surveys, fittings and contents, completion dates and timescales etc must be dealt with by the estate agents and the agents must be aware of the potential conflict of interest.

Conflicts can also occur where clients ask their solicitor to withhold information which may have a detrimental effect on the transaction. In the event that a conflict occurs the solicitors for both parties will have to cease acting and new solicitors will have to be found.