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Conveyancing ethics survey

In July this year we sent out emails to a number of conveyancers wanting to find out what their attitudes were to various ethical issues regarding conveyancing.  Over 520 replied, which replies formed the basis for a comparison to a similar survey which was conducted in 1996 and which were presented by Gustav at the recent Tipping Point Roadshow.

 

Question 1 - Number of partners in your firm

 

Question 2 - In which area do you practice?

 

Question 3 - You approach a financial institution with the request that your firm be instructed to attend to the conveyancing work  as your firm banks with the institution and therefore deserves some support.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 4 - You approach a financial institution with the suggestion that your firm be instructed to do some of its conveyancing work.  In return, and as a suitable quid pro quo, you will open a banking account with the institution.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 5 - You approach a financial institution which is an existing client and, in order to obtain more bond instructions, you offer to do its conveyancing work at a rate that is a certain percentage below the guideline tariff recommended by your law society.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 6 - You approach a financial institution which is not your client and, in order to induce them to put your firm on their panel, you offer to do its conveyancing work at a rate that is a certain percentage below the guideline tariff recommended by your law society.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 7 - You appoint a marketing consultant ('runner') whose main duty is to obtain as many loan applications as possible so as to ensure a steady flow of instructions to your firm.  

(a) He or she only approaches existing clients of the firm for this purpose.  
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

(b) He or she has carte blanche in this regard and may approach anybody.  
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

(c) He or she is instructed to specifically target estate agents in order to assist them in obtaining mortgage finance for purchasers.  The purpose here is twofold: not only to get the bond instruction but also the transfer instruction. 
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 8 - You take a manager of a financial institution or an estate agency whom you know well (you have worked with him and his concern over a period of time) on a holiday/hunting trip (2-5 days) on an annual or regular basis.  The intention is to maintain goodwill in order to ensure a steady flow of instructions.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 9 - You offer to take the new manager of a financial institution or estate agency on a holiday/hunting trip (2-5 days) on an annual or a regular basis.  The intention is to gain his goodwill in order to get more work.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 10 - You pay commission on registration but in order to persuade the estate agent to instruct you on a regular basis, you offer to pay him an amount of (say R500) upon receipt of his instruction or upon confirmation that the purchaser's mortgage finance is in order.  The amount is paid as an expression of your appreciation for his instruction.    

a) He or she only approaches existing clients of the firm for this purpose.  
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

(b) Would a nominal payment of of only say R50 be in order?
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

 

Question 11 - In order to induce a deeds office examiner to expedite the examination of deeds, or an Inland Revenue official to expedite the issuing of transfer duty receipts, or a local authority official to expedite the issuing of clearances, you:

(a) Pay him or her an amount for each end every expedition; 
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

(b) Shower him or her with elaborate gifts to express your appreciation; 
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

 

(c) Make small gifts (bottle of wine/box of chocolates) on a regular basis as an expression of your appreciation of his or her efforts; 
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

 

(d) Take him or her to an occasional lunch as a 'thank you' for their efforts.
Is this conduct in your opinion ethical?
Is your firm involved in an activity of this nature? 

 

Question 12 - You are of the opinion that the activities described in questions 3 to 7 are merely a manifestation of the right to engage freely in economic activity and any effort to curb these activities would constitute a violation of your right to economic freedom as protected in s22 of the Constitution.  

 

Question 13 - You are of the opinion that an affirmative answer to questions 8 to 11 would be incorrect due to the provisions of the limitation clause i.e. s36 of the Constitution.  

 

Question 14 - I am reluctant to report conduct which I consider to be unethical to my law society, because -   

(a) I may lose support from either the financial institution or estate agent with whom my colleague is involved as I will be perceived by them to be obstructive.

(b) Even if I were to make the effort and take the time to do so, the law society will probably fail to take appropriate steps to curb such conduct.

(c) The law society will probably be unable to curb such conduct not withstanding every effort on its part.

 

 

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