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How to Avoid Real Estate Claims

Jun 10, 2014



Real estate related negligence accounts for a significant amount of claims. Whether you’re typically an estate and trust law practitioner acting as an estate solicitor or an experienced real estate lawyer, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of claims. There can always be a chance that someone will raise a negligence claim, but taking the necessary steps will only help to protect yourself.

Common Errors Leading to Negligence Claims

  • miscommunication or absence of communication between client and lawyer
  • insufficient investigation or discovery of facts
  • improper application or knowledge of the law
  • back office errors, such as clerical errors or delegation errors
  • missing deadlines

Meeting The Client Face-to-Face

It’s not always necessary to carry out paperwork yourself, but it is important to meet the client at least once. Make sure you gather all the necessary facts:

  • review the transaction
  • understand any wrinkles or complications
  • record client instructions

The Lender Is Usually Also The Client

Because the lender is a client, there exists a duty of care to them. Even if it makes the transaction easier if the lender were in the dark, you must disclose material information to them. You must also act on their behalf to find out information relevant to their position as a lender.

Communicate Directly With The Person Whose True Interest Is At Risk

There are many professional intermediaries who may have more experience interacting with real estate lawyers. Getting information or relaying information to these professionals can often move things along smoothly. However, you must contact the person with true interest at risk unless the intermediaries have written consent authorizing them to instruct the lawyer.

Take The Time to Document Conversations

Keep notes of conversations regarding instructions and provide a detailed reporting letter to the client about the actions you’ve taken as a result. This is your best tool in a malpractice claim. It’s important to do so because chances are you may not recall all the details of the conversation. Furthermore, it’s a physical document you can produce. Also, it’s good practice to be able to refresh your memory while carrying out the duties related to the transaction.

Keep Electronic Passwords to Your Personal Accounts

Delegating tasks means you can focus on doing the crucial work in your office. There are limitations to what you can assign to others. Only you should have access to your registration credentials.

Read more here and here.