IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle has said the proposal from the Law Society to enforce mandatory separate legal representation for voluntary transfers is an excessive step.
Mr Doyle was responding to the report of the Task Force on Conveyancing Conflicts. He said, “The majority of voluntary transfers of farms occur between parent and child/niece/nephew, and arise from a natural transition of the workload and responsibilities. While the Task Force has identified instances of concern in particular transfers, we believe the level has been overstated. The proposal to impose mandatory separate representation for all transactions is, therefore, a disproportionate response.”
Mr Doyle continued, “IFA strongly believes that, for the development of the agriculture sector, the timely transfer of farms should be encouraged. Where the transfer is straightforward, the introduction of a mandatory requirement to have two solicitors, and the imposition of additional costs, could deter or prevent the parties from proceeding.”
“In recent years, farmers have faced hugely increased legal costs when registering a legal charge, as a solicitor is prohibited from acting for both the borrower and the financial institution. The full cost of these increased charges is being borne by farmers. To suggest, as the Task Force have done, that the imposition of mandatory separate representation for voluntary transfers would not impose additional costs, is misguided.”
He concluded, “IFA believes that for voluntary transfers, a solicitor should advise the participants of the merits of considering separate representation, particularly where there may be potential conflict or dispute between the parties. The introduction of a Code of Conduct, or guidelines, on this issue, would be a very useful measure