Identity: Why Solicitors need to check your ID.

Last year, city law firm Mischon de Reya, was found to be liable to its client, Dreamvar (UK) Ltd, for breach of trust after Dreamvar was duped into a purchasing a London property from a fraudster who was posing as the owner of the property.

The property was owned by an individual but he did not occupy it.  The tenant of the property forged documents to deceive his solicitor and other parties into believing he was the genuine owner of the property.

The case has been high-profile and widely reported and has caused solicitors everywhere to re-evaluate their practices.  The High Court ruled that Mischon de Reya should bear the £1m losses incurred by Dreamvar, although Mischon de Reya were found to have acted both honestly and reasonably.

The Law Society, who represent solicitors, now wish to intervene and want to argue that the solicitors acting for the fraudster were in a better position to detect a problem.

Checking our client’s identity is an important task that we carry out.  No doubt, whether you’re buying or selling a property, you will have been asked to prove your identity several times – with estate agents, solicitors and banks.

Every client of our firm is required to provide ID documents.  If we do not meet with you face to face then we can carry out an enhanced ID check via an electronic search.  This goes above and beyond producing a copy of a recent utility bill as it checks electronic records to see if the information you have produced matches that held on various databases.

Solicitors are held to high standards and the implications of falling foul of these standards are far-reaching.  Therefore, our own procedures and practices aim to protect our clients and ourselves and reflect the high standards that we aim to achieve.