Recourse for missing exchange deadline

(10 Posts)
NibbleQueen Sun 06-Sep-20 21:32:07

I wonder if anyone knows if we can refuse to pay solicitor fees

We've been working towards both sale and purchase for several months. We had set a deadline with solicitors of 23rd August to complete due to our buyers' mortgage expiring on 25th. While we responded to all enquiries within a day of receipt, our buyers' solicitor took easily more than a week to review responses only to come back with more follow-up questions. Their latency in reviewing responses meant we were the week before target exchange date and enquiries still going back and forth.

Due to this we asked buyers if they could extend again, and in the time between the target exchange/completion dates and the extended period, one of them lost their job and they're now no longer able to buy from us.

We would have got it over the line if the buyers solicitor had responded with timeliness and worked towards the target exchange dates.

While most of the trouble was with the buyers solicitor, we are aware that our solicitor didn't send us some enquiries for at least a month and the buyers solicitor didn't follow up, so that lost time sitting in someone's inbox too.

Flat is back on the market but in the current climate we are doubtful we'll get new buyers and so we'll probably not move at all. I'm worried about now having to pay solicitor fees when actually both their and our solicitor failed to meet our brief of exchanging by the 23rd.

FYI we got a "no move no fee" however this only applies to the first abortive transaction. For our sale this will be the first aborted transaction but on our purchase we did have another property fall through, granted solicitor did no work on that one before it did.

Can we avoid losing money, do we have any consumer rights here?

OP’s posts: |
Bells3032 Sun 06-Sep-20 21:35:16

If you're in England unlikely you'll be able to recoup anything. It's fustrating but not much you can do I'm afraid

Feminist10101 Sun 06-Sep-20 21:38:03

Nothing is legally binding until exchange has happened (excl. Scotland). If they exchanged and missed completion you could get your costs covered. Missing exchange doesn’t have any legal or financial penalties.

Spickle Sun 06-Sep-20 22:10:22

As above, nothing is legally binding until exchange takes place.

A solicitor may agree to "work towards" a preferred date, but it is merely a desire not a promise. No-one can second guess how long third parties will take to respond to enquiries, or whether the responses are satisfactory. Sometimes legal problems come to light - i.e. title discrepancies or missing documents, which will take longer to resolve.

A solicitor would not allow an exchange to take place if some of the work hadn't been completed, just because clients were insisting on honouring a particular date because this particular date suited them!

Your buyers are probably relieved that the transaction took a long time. After all, how frightening would it be if you had agreed to buy a property, gone through all the legal processes and having one of them lose their job after they were legally committed to the purchase.

Basillify Mon 07-Sep-20 08:57:06


Nothing is legally binding until exchange has happened (excl. Scotland). If they exchanged and missed completion you could get your costs covered. Missing exchange doesn’t have any legal or financial penalties.

Nothing is legally binding in Scotland until missives are concluded (ie. exchange) either. Seems to be a common misconception on mumsnet that offers are binding once made.

Withdrawal just doesn't seem to be the done thing once the process has started. There is also law society guidance about the role of solicitors and associated estate agents surrounding the offer process and when parties want to withdraw for example, in gazumping and gazundering scenarios, which perhaps makes it a little less common to withdraw but it's still possible until missives are concluded.

Finfintytint Mon 07-Sep-20 09:11:55

Similar position. All parties agreed to work towards an exchange two weeks ago ( we are 9 months in from accepting the offer). Exchange has not taken place as our buyer’s conveyancer has stopped communicating with his client. They have requested our buyer’s deposit be transferred but won’t provide bank details to enable this. Fucking useless and no one can do a damned thing.

NibbleQueen Mon 07-Sep-20 09:41:40

I'm in pieces. All our stuff is packed and I'm very pessimistic about finding a new buyer in current climate. We've been back in the market nearly 2 weeks and only one viewing

OP’s posts: |


CayrolBaaaskin Mon 07-Sep-20 09:45:53

I don’t see that you have any recourse against your solicitor. The reason you were unable to complete was because your buyer lost their job. Your solicitor did “work towards” the target date.

CayrolBaaaskin Mon 07-Sep-20 09:46:31

Also market is very hot at the moment. If you are not selling, price is likely too high

Bells3032 Mon 07-Sep-20 09:51:41

@CayrolBaaaskin the market is hot for houses or places with lots of space and gardens. trying to sell a flat at the moment is a nightmare

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