Royal Bank adopts conveyancing protocol of western law societies

On April 24 the Royal Bank of Canada will begin accepting opinions from lawyers in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the conveyance or refinancing of residential properties in accordance with the Western Law Societies Conveyancing Protocol.

Each of the law societies in the four western provinces has adopted a version of the protocol that is tailored for use in that jurisdiction. In BC, the protocol provides that a lawyer who acts for a financial institution is permitted to advise that institution (through a short, standard form opinion) that, if there are no known building location defects on a property, the institution need not obtain an up-to-date building location survey as a condition of funding a mortgage loan. If the financial institution 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. In other provinces, the protocol also addresses specific problems related to the release of mortgage and purchase funds on closing.

This protocol helps streamline process and costs for mortgage lenders. Although some additional practice standards are set for BC lawyers in issuing protocol opinions, nothing in the protocol otherwise diminishes or changes the usual practices of prudent law firms or the standard of care for lawyers acting on mortgage transactions.

In agreeing to accept opinions under the protocol, the Royal Bank joins national lenders, including the Bank of Montreal and Canadian Western Bank. In the short term, the Royal Bank will provide an addendum to their mortgage instructions at www. rbcroyalbank.com/legalforms to advise lawyers they may close using the protocol.

The BC version of the Western Law Societies Conveyancing Protocol and background information is available under “Practice Support / Articles” on the Law Society website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca. For more information, contact lawyer Catherine Greenall at the Law Society office (cgreenall@lsbc.org).