Michelle Fisher, Conveyancing Services Manager based in Warrington discusses why solicitors ask for identification
Q: Why do I need to show identification to my solicitor when I’m buying a house?
A: There are several reasons that identification is required, the main one is to check that those involved in a property transaction are genuine and are legally able to buy and sell the properties included in the transaction.
Solicitors and law firms in England and Wales are governed by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA provides guidance and rules for code of conduct for best legal practice. One requirement is that prior to ANY legal work being carried out an identification check is completed on a client’s documentation.
In addition to protection against property or mortgage fraud, identification documentation checks are carried out as precautions against:
- Money Laundering and associated financial crime
- Acting for persons associated with terrorism or the funding of terrorism
If the checks are not carried out properly, then the solicitor or law firm could face SRA disciplinary action, criminal prosecution, and a civil claim as well as be liable for a financial fine, as could the persons involved in presenting the false identification.
Legal firms take these guidelines very seriously, and it will not be unusual for them to adhere to their own strict procedures. They are also likely to have specially trained personnel who are authorised to check official Identification documentation, and can spot any potential concerns with false, forged or altered documents.
Your solicitor will provide you with a list of required Identification documents to present and guidance relating to additional documentation if for example, you have recently changed your name due to marriage or if there is a misspelling within your name or address details.
It should be remembered that checking your Identification is an important part of the legal process and is there to protect all of us.