This is what happens when you make a land law mistake in practice

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By Thomas Connelly on

Solicitor slapped with £5,000 fine after failing to register a notice of interest

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It would appear even the pros struggle with land law.

A conveyancing solicitor has left an investor over £40,000 out of pocket, after he failed to register a notice of interest.

Kim Singh Landa — who is an assistant solicitor at Manchester outfit HSK Solicitors — was instructed by an Essex-based firm to register an AN1 form on behalf of their client.

Once completed, the fairly straightforward conveyancing process would secure the interests’ of the client against the property. Unfortunately for Landa he failed to do this and the property was flogged before the mistake was spotted, costing the client over £40,000.

The property law specialist, who is described as an experienced solicitor with over seven years’ legal practice under his belt, told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) that — along with three other fee earners — he dealt with as many as 200 files and 40 completions each month. Lana explained how there was a “lack of supervision” on this particular file, which had led to the error.

The Tribunal report stated:

The Respondent had made a mistake, he did not profit from this mistake. His actions were neither planned nor spontaneous. He had acted in breach of a position of trust but no more so than the average solicitor who made an error.

Before adding:

An aggravating factor was the fact that a solicitor’s undertaking has to be able to be relied on and is central to the conveyancing process. The Respondent’s failure to comply with his undertaking was in material breach of his obligations to protect the public and the reputation of the profession.

Conceding that it was an error “not to pick the file up himself and pay some attention to it”, Landa was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,452.

A glimmer of hope perhaps, for all those students currently struggling with the complexities of land law. Even the professionals make mistakes.