B.C. lawyers can offer local financial institutions new conveyancing protocol

Two brochures are available to B.C. lawyers who wish to update local mortgage lenders on enhancements under the new Western Law Societies Conveyancing Protocol.

Having received the nod from Benchers in all four Western provinces, the new Western Law Societies Conveyancing Protocol took effect February 15. In B.C., lawyers who act in mortgage transactions can now advise an institutional lender client that, when there are no known building location defects on a property, the lender client need not obtain an up-to-date building location survey as a condition of funding a mortgage loan.

The Protocol allows B.C. real estate lawyers to use a standard form opinion in residential mortgage transactions that, for institutional lender clients, should prove a satisfactory alternative to obtaining a building location survey.

If a lender relies on a protocol opinion to fund a mortgage and suffers an actual loss as a result of an unknown building location defect that would have been disclosed by an up-to-date survey, the Lawyers Insurance Fund will, on behalf of the lawyer, accept liability and, as appropriate, pay the cost of repair or any actual loss suffered. Provided a lawyer has complied with the Protocol, paid claims will not trigger any deductible or surcharge for the lawyer, and the lawyer remains eligible for a part-time practice discount. (For background on the Protocol and Solicitor's Opinion, see the January-February Benchers' Bulletin.)

The Law Society and CLE were pleased to welcome 260 lawyers at briefing sessions on the new Protocol in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna in early February, led by Victoria Bencher Ralston Alexander, Q.C., Vancouver lawyer Frank Kaplan, Lawyers Insurance Fund program administrator/staff lawyer Margrett George and Law Society staff lawyer Ron Usher. Another 150 lawyers saw the presentation by video repeat in 14 locations across the province.

On the Law Society of B.C. website, lawyers can find the Protocol, Solicitor's Opinion and several supporting documents: sample wording when acting for lender and borrower or lender alone, file checklist and statutory declaration regarding existing building survey. These materials are available to view onscreen and as downloadable Word documents: see http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/professional_regulation/ethics.htm.

The Western law societies are taking steps to introduce the Protocol to the Canadian Bankers Association and major financial institutions in Western Canada and have had some fruitful discussions. Lawyers who would like to explain the Protocol to their own local branches may find two brochures useful: Quick and Efficient Real Estate Closings and Enhanced Legal Services for Lenders. These brochures address new efficiencies to real estate closing procedures in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, similar to those already in place in B.C. However, they also describe the benefit to mortgage lenders in all Western provinces in being able to forego a building location survey.

If you would like copies of the brochures, please contact Hazel Mason at the Law Society office by email to hmason@lsbc.org, by fax to (604) 646-5902 or by telephone (604) 605-5332 (toll-free in B.C. 1-800-903-5300). For more on the Protocol or on communicating with financial institutions, please contact Ron Usher by email at rusher@lsbc.org.