Agent or Solicitor negligence missing stamp duty deadline?

Agent or Solicitor negligence missing stamp duty deadline?

8:26 AM, 3rd May 2016, About 7 years ago 11

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Just wondering if anyone can give me some legal advice please? It centres around a property purchase which was due to complete by March 31st, but never completed as it missed the deadline for the 3% stamp duty surcharge.banana skin

The time line is as follows.

Purchase agreed at the end of January.

Shortly after I received a memorandum of sale from the estate agents with a cover letter stating
“We will of course be in regular contact throughout the process and will offer our full assistance at all times to ensure that the sale progresses smoothly”.

Shortly after agreeing the sale via the estate agent, I received a telephone call from the estate agent’s dedicated sales progressor to introduce himself and assure me of his role. I made it clear to him of the deadline to complete by March 31st.

The conveyancing solicitor was instructed with clear instruction of the March 31st deadline.

The searches and survey were carried out and the mortgage offer was received in good time.

My solicitor raised enquiries with the seller’s solicitor on March 10th.

On March 23rd I became concerned as I hadn’t heard anything so I made some phone calls to find out what was happening. When I called the estate agent’s sales progressor he didn’t seem to know what was going on and then decided to start chasing things his end. Unfortunately this was all too little too late though as there were two bank holidays between March 23rd and March 31st and the mortgage company require five days notice to draw down funds.

Unfortunately the £4,800 stamp duty surcharge was not something I was not willing to pay as I felt I had been let down by other people whom I thought I could rely on. I ended up withdrawing from the purchase and loosing out.

As a result of the above I estimate my losses to be the following.

Aborted searches and survey £400
Costs to arrange and view other properties (time, petrol etc) £600
Lost profit that I would have otherwise received (£600/m x 6) * £3,600
SDLT surcharge that I will now have to pay on a similar purchase £4,800

* had this purchase of completed I would have been receiving rent and making a profit by now.

As you can see, my losses are quite extensive here and I’d like to recover these losses from which ever professional party was to blame here.

I understand that estate agents, by law owe little duty of care to buyers? This particular agent is a member of The Property Ombudsman (TPO). I think that the TPO would be likely to agree with me that the estate agent were negligent in not chasing this case in nearly two weeks given the impending deadline but looking on their website it appears that the TPO only seem to award very small amount to buyers (around £500), even though they say they can aware up to £25,000.

Also, was the solicitor to blame? It appears that they raised their enquiries then just left it; for nearly two weeks until I chased them. As they were aware of the deadline, do they owe me a duty of care to follow up on things like this?

I understand that any solicitor looking to represent me on an issue such as the above would only work on a case by case basis (hourly rate) so their costs would soon exceed my losses.

Any advice appreciated.


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Colin McNulty

9:43 AM, 9th May 2016, About 7 years ago

I forgot to mention, my conveyancing friend told me that his company had 450 completions in the diary for 31st March, yes four hundred and fifty, in one day!

Apparently they drafted every able bodied person they could find into the conveyancing department that day.

IIRC he said they managed to do 440 of the completions, so 10 missed the deadline and suffered the higher stamp duty.

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