Property solicitor, Victoria Cranwell, explains why solicitors must carry out ID checks on clients, and what documents must be provided. To discuss your residential property requirements, including requesting a conveyancing quote, please contact our Property Team by email or call them on 01225 462871. You can also request a conveyancing quote online.
When you instruct a solicitor they will ask you for proof of identity. This applies to all clients, not just those looking to move home. While it can seem tiresome, your solicitor is required to do this, and for good reason.
These days financial crime is increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can and do impersonate others to sell property they do not own. This is one of the reasons why, if you are selling a property, your solicitor is under a duty to verify your identity.
The other main reason that identity checks are required is to help prevent money laundering and mortgage fraud. Solicitors who fail to follow procedures to properly identify a client can unintentionally assist in the commission of financial crime, including the funding of terrorism. Understandably, such an omission by a solicitor will be viewed as a very serious breach of professional conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Indeed, the solicitor risks being ‘struck off’.
What documents will you need to provide?
Your solicitor will need proof of your identity and your address.
In most cases you can prove your identity by providing your current passport or photographic driving licence.
To prove your address, you will need to provide a recent (ie not more than three months old) utility bill, bank statement or council tax bill.
Sometimes, your solicitor may need to use an online provider to carry out due diligence. This might be because:
- you have recently changed your name;
- you do not currently have a fixed address;
- you cannot provide proof of your address that is less than three months old; or
- your solicitor has not been able to meet you face-to-face.
For business clients
For business clients, solicitors are required to identify beneficial owners and controllers. This means:
- For a limited company – evidence is required of identity and address for at least two directors, as well as a list of the names and addresses of all shareholders.
- For a partnership – a list of all partners is required, together with evidence of identity and address for at least two of the partners, and a copy of the current partnership deed or other document that confirms who owns the equity. Depending on the circumstances, further information may also be required relating to the identity of shareholders or partners.