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Door handle dilemmas and training twists

View profile for Richard Carter
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Last month the SRA issued a stern warnings about training by solicitors. We are not doing enough apparently and this needs to change.

In our firm aim pleased to say, somewhat smugly, that this does not apply as we train everyone regularly through a variety of ways. It used to be that solicitors had to do a minimum of 16 hours continued professional development each year by the end of October, no excuses! I was normally good at sorting this and easily exceeded the minimum most years but one year I realised I had not done enough and needed another 3 hours of lectures to get to the magic 16. I looked for local courses and there was no obvious choice for me so I had to do something away from my normal work. I think the choice was something like “acting for clients buying a second home in Tibet” or “Theatre law issues in Norfolk”. I chose the Tibet course for deadline day of 31st October, knowing it was going to be a waste of time. I burst into the venue at 1.59pm for a 2pm start, expecting it to be me and a couple of chanting monks in attendance. But the place was packed, standing room only, with over 100 people doing the same as me– racking up pointless hours on a subject we had no interest in, because we had to. The course providers deliberately put lots of courses on around deadline day at premium prices to catch the disorganised like moths to a light. So the SRA, to their credit, changed it. We now have to self-police our training and do relevant study each year to ensure we are “competent”. The trouble with this is that most lawyers are very self confident in their abilities and thus the problem – many are not doing enough training. I suspect it is the ones who need it most (those later in their career) who are not doing it.   


On the fixtures and fitting form that clients selling a house have to complete there is a now curious item asking them whether “door furniture” is included or excluded – basically are you leaving the door handles? Of course they will be so why ask this question? Because of former clients like mine from many years ago Mr X. Mr X’s buyers were fresh faced, rosy cheeked, keen first time buyers with pushy parents who wanted to also get involved. This meant lots of enquiries from the buyers via their solicitors who were somewhat sheepish by the end. A few legal ones but mainly practical stuff – where is the inbuilt smoke alarm? Has it been maintained? Where will you leave the security code for the burglar alarm? And so it went on and on. 50+ questions. My inclination was to tell them to take a running jump but it was a tricky market and my client seemingly did not want to annoy them. Even after exchange the queries kept coming. On completion day it all went through but at 3pm we got the call from the buyer’s solicitors. “Can you clients return all the door handles??”. He had become so peeved, to put it politely for this family column, that he had closed every door and removed the handle from the outside meaning the buyers couldn’t get into any rooms. I rang him. He knew the call was coming and dutifully handed them into the agents without delay. Childish for sure but it clearly gave him a lot of satisfaction. “Wait until the hidden fish starts to rot” he said when I told him they were now satisfied. The phone went dead. I never heard any more so hope it was a joke. There’s no column for fish (included or excluded) on the fixtures form.……