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Letters for Lawyers - Conveyancing

By Garry Barnsley OAM

CONTENTSREVIEWS

Book + CD available as a package or individually

Every letter that you write creates a permanent record of the information it contains. Accordingly, it is important to ensure that it accurately reflects your ideas and communicates in a way that satisfies the needs of your reader. Letters also convey an image of the writer and of his or her competence and professionalism. Clearly, it is in your interest to use your letters to create a positive impression.
de Groot and Maxwell, Legal Letter Writing, 1994

Here's to plain language and clear understanding.
Kaspar Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) to Sam Slade (Humphrey Bogart), proposing a toast, in The Maltese Falcon.

Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
Sir Winston Churchill
Broadcast address, 9 February 1941

Words are a lawyer's tools of trade. Precedents are the templates used to leverage the lawyer's skills and letters are the basic tools of legal practice. Yet often we put much more effort and sophistication into our computerised delivery systems than into our precedents. It takes time and skill to write letters that are concise and plain but also comprehensive and it is hard to find time to keep your letters up-to-date.

This book of letters will test the legal profession's interest in practical tools to do the job by offering templates for that deceptively commonplace legal task called conveyancing.

The letters are written by a lawyer keen on plain language and have been refined over 30 years of daily application. They can save you time, make you money and let you sleep more soundly at night by providing you and your staff with inbuilt checklists. They can help you build your reputation with your clients for thoroughness and clarity, while evincing and adding to the value of your services.


CONTENTS

Why Precedent Letters for Lawyers?

Vendor Precedents

Letter to vendor client acknowledging instructions to prepare sale contract (residential property) and enclosing questionnaire
Questionnaire
Letter to vendor's mortgagee asking for title information
Letter to vendor client sending draft contract for listing of property for sale
Bill for preparing up-front sale contract
Letter to vendor client sending copy building certificate
Letter to estate agent sending up-front contract
Letter to vendor client sending auction contract
Letter to auctioneer sending sale contract
Letter to purchaser's solicitor sending sale contract
Letter to vendor client sending contract when purchaser found
Additional paragraphs for (dealing with tenant in possession, development consent, title conversion)
Letter to agent when purchaser found
Letter asking vendor's instructions about changes to contract
Letter to agent sending deposit cheque
Letter to solicitor for exchange of contracts
Letter to vendor client reporting exchange of contracts
Letter to mortgagee bank for discharge
Letter to vendor sending draft replies to requisitions on title for approval
Letter to vendor about clearance of land tax certificate
Letter of advice about early possession
Letter to vendor client sending transfer for signature
Letter to purchaser's solicitor for settlement giving directions for payment
Settlement statement (Sydney and country)
Letter to client sending draft settlement statement
Order on the tenant
Bill to vendor (when no previous bill sent)
Letter to vendor's agent sending order on agent
Letter to council sending cheque for rates

Purchaser Precedents

Letter to purchaser acknowledging instructions to act
Letter to agent
Letter to vendor's solicitor acknowledging receipt of contract
Annexure to : Special clause - Non-contamination warranty
Letter sending contract to client
Paragraph for letter sending contract to buyer of strata title lot
Request for survey report
Request for insect pest/building inspection report
Letter to council - request for building certificate
Letter sending pest/building report to client
Letter sending strata inspection report to client
Letter sending survey report to client
Letter seeking changes to draft contract
Letter to client for instructions before exchange (contracts not interdependent/encroachment/non-compliance)
Letter to vendor's solicitors sending contract for exchange
Letter sending deposit to agent
Letter informing client of exchange of contracts
Letter about release of deposit
Letter sending requisitions on title
Letter sending transfer and requesting settlement statement
Letter to bank giving particulars of title
Letter to mortgagor about terms of mortgage
Letter to purchaser sending copy of replies to requisitions on title received from vendor's solicitors
Letter to mortgagee bank returning mortgage documents
Report on title
Letter sending draft settlement statement to vendor's solicitor
Letter to purchaser when ready for settlement
Bill for purchase and mortgage
Statement of amount required for completion
Letter to bank giving settlement details
Letter to mortgagee's solicitors giving settlement details
Letter to vendor's solicitor acting as unpaid agent on settlement
Order on agent
Memo sending documents for registration
Letter to client reporting completion
Letter to purchaser sending copy of title deed etc.
Letter to client sending old deed for historical purposes

Lease Precedents

Letter sending draft lease to tenant's solicitor
Bill for landlord (where payable by tenant)
Letter to landlord sending draft lease
Letter to tenant about lease
Bill for tenant client
Letter to tenant sending copy of lease
Letter of advice to tenant about lease problems, mediation, strategy

REVIEWS

LawCover's analysis of notifications against solicitors for the five years between 1995 and 1995 reveal the following:
  • Poor communications with clients 55%
  • (failed to adequately advise clients) 43% ...
The overwhelming majority of claims still arise as a result of poor communications with clients and in particular from failure to adequately advise clients. Solicitors should always consider the risks of a transaction to the client and advise the client of those risks including the steps that can be taken to minimise them. In particular be cautious whenever a client opts to proceed without making enquiries or investigations that you feel should be made. In these circumstances record the terms of the advice and instructions in a file note and preferably confirm it in writing. Letters can be adopted from precedents contained in publications such as Garry Barnsley's Letters for Lawyers: Conveyancing.

LawCover Bulletin, March 2001

Very useful for conveyancing solicitors. Congratulations on its production and quality.

Professor Andrew Lang

Precedent letters can be invaluable to a practitioner. . . . As the author of this text rightly points out, despite their many virtues precedent letters are not as readily available as precedents for deeds, pleadings or agreements. It is this need for precedent letters that this text seeks to fulfil by providing a comprehensive set of precedent letters for the various steps involved in a conveyancing transaction as well as a few precedent letters for a leasing transaction. Conveyancing in particular is an area which is well suited to precedent letters as many of the same steps are repeated from file to file.
The text is divided into three main sections, which contain precedents for conveyancing transactions when acting for a vendor or a purchaser followed by precedents for a lease transaction. The letters are presented in the order they would normally be required. A suggested coding for each letter is provided to enable easier access to the precedent letters once they have been transferred to a computer system. Paragraphs are numbered for ease of reference and optional paragraphs are also provided for inclusion where required. . . .
The conveyancing letters are quite extensive in their coverage. . . . The [leasing] letters deal with many common clauses and situations and act as a valuable checklist. . . .
The text . . . is based on NSW law. . . . While some [letters] may be adapted by the insertion of parallel Victorian provisions, some are simply too different. The conveyancing procedure itself is also slightly different. However, there are many similarities and the precedents as a whole could still be useful as a basis for creating a set of Victorian precedents. The text will be a very valuable resource for NSW practitioners as it is comprehensive, well-presented and easy to adapt.

Law Institute Journal (Victoria), 2001

   

Published June 2000
Publisher The Federation Press
Hardback/224pp
ISBN 9781862873339
Australian RRP $66.00
International Price $60.50
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CD-ROM
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CD-ROM/Hardback
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