Conveyancing – the profession of no discernible movement

I read Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins a few years ago and it had a truly odd cast that included a talking and walking spoon, a dirty sock, a can of beans, and most significantly for me, a mysterious performance artist known as Turn Around Norman. His art was to rotate so slowly that you could only detect movement by going away and returning days later to find that his position had changed slightly. I thought this highly improbable until I came to sell my house.

Before starting I looked into conveyancing and it seemed simple enough –  I even considered a DIY approach. Caution prevailed and I took my Estate Agents’ recommendation and went with a local Conveyancer. I still cannot understand why it took so long. I hasten to add that my experience was relatively rapid in the snail-paced world of house sales but only because I was prepared to sacrifice what little grey hair I had to the process. A daily diet of phone calls, personal visits, emails, and even letters were required to elicit even the smallest response, many of which were decidedly unfriendly.

By definition, conveyancing involves the legal process of moving land or property from one owner to another. Now given that the actual property stays exactly where it always has been it is clearly only the paper that is being shifted. (Subject to manifold caveats relating to the party of the first part and notwithstanding the potential for landslip and subsidence against which the party of the first part may be indemnified by the party of the third part…and so on and on).

So what could take so long?

Well, for a start the term conveyancer is a piece of beguiling nonsense. It suggests some kind of device designed to enable movement – I don’t think so!
The system is designed to move at the sort of speed that cries out for time lapse photography. Come back next week and see if you can spot any difference.

So, what is the motivation of those of the conveyancing persuasion?
Surely it cannot be, as I previously thought, that the practitioners of the black art have a vested interest in making it seem as difficult and obscure as possible, can it?
It can’t be because they like the idea of swanning into the office around 10 or 11 and checking their emails to see if someone else has broken ranks and done the unthinkable – something that might require them to respond by sending an email before the end of the day, can it?
Oh, I’m sure they pine for the good old days when everything had to be done on paper. Even when FAX machines came into use these were in the hands of a select few so customers were conveniently kept at arms length. But now, Email has really rocked their little world!
I’m also sure that they dread the day when they might have to recognise the meaning of the word “Proactive”. Heaven forbid! That might involve them picking up the telephone to contact their counterparts in other parts of “the chain” rather than waiting for little data apples to drop from the trees of fortune onto their nicely clear desks.
No, these Conveyancers are the Queens and Kings of obfuscation, confusion and delay. They deliberately use terms that even reasonably well-read customers will never have heard of and use grammatic rules known only to the initiated. Their role in life is to make yours worse than it need be. Think of the term “The Chain” – what a nice positive image. Can’t imagine anyone feeling held back by that, eh?

They plan late night trips to the red tape district seeking early redemption; they dive into a murky world of chains where they speak of easements and engrossments, stock up on indemnities, try to delay searches, invoke unused and archaic certificates, and carry out various other nefarious deeds.
They learn to intimidate customers through arcane language and unspoken risks.
“We cannot proceed until you sign this document absolving me of any responsibility for the lack of a complete environmental impact analysis”
“Those higher in the chain require a signature on a document indemnifying them against ground collapse caused by pre-Cambrian civilisations or wayleaves resulting from manorial rights.“
“Can you indemnify me against vet bills arising from my cat suffering from nervous exhaustion because you keep telephoning me?”

They talk in a semi-detached way of delays up and down “The chain” as though it was some kind of mysterious living entity from The Game of Thrones, rather than a few people as anxious as you are to buy and sell a house.

I have seen it said that moving house is the seventh most stressful event in one’s life but these people believe this is just not good enough.

Their sinister unspoken aim is to get it to number one!

We must stop them!

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