Protocol forms are a set of standardised forms created by the law society and used by solicitors during the buying and selling of residential property in England and Wales.
The forms help to streamline the conveyancing process and ensure that solicitors follow a set procedure and that both buyers and sellers have access to all the information they need.
In this blog, we will take a look at the importance of protocol forms and the different types that you may encounter during the conveyancing process.
We will also discuss the potential legal consequences of filling out the forms incorrectly.
What is the importance of protocol forms?
Protocol Forms are a set of documents, prescribed by the Law Society that help standardise and streamline the conveyancing process.
They are important because they ensure that nothing is missed and that both the buyer and seller have all the information they need to complete the property transaction in a timely manner.
Protocol forms are typically given to the seller by their solicitor, the seller will then complete the forms to the best of their knowledge and then they will be given to the buyer.
Completing the forms will give the prospective buyer a better indication of the property they are buying and what to expect from the transaction.
If they are completed accurately and all the relevant information is disclosed, protocol forms can also protect the seller further down the line from any legal claims related to issues, such as Japanese Knotweed, radon gas or flooding.
What types of protocol forms are there?
There are three main protocol forms that you are likely to be asked to complete if you are selling your property:
Property Information Form – TA6
The purpose of this form is to provide as much information as possible about your property and its utilities, including when they were last serviced and who provides them.
Include as many details as possible, such as:
- Who maintains the property boundaries
- Any disputes or complaints that have taken place at the property
- Utility suppliers and when they were last serviced
- Who lives at the property
- When you plan to vacate the property, if it sells
Fixtures and Fittings Form – TA10
This form describes what is and isn’t included in the sale of the property and includes any items that you would be happy to sell for an extra cost.
Any items that were not included in the sale or purchased for an additional fee will need to be removed from the property before or on the day of completion.
Leasehold Information Form – TA7
This form is only necessary when you are selling a leasehold property. You should include details of who you pay for services and what those services are.
Further information for this form can be obtained from the Freeholder/Management Company if you are unsure what you are paying for or how your funds are used.
As the seller it is vital that the information you provide in these forms is accurate to the best of your knowledge, as any inaccuracies could result in a legal claim further down the line.
When are conveyancing protocol forms required?
Protocol forms in conveyancing are typically required at various stages of a property transaction, including the pre-contact stage and during the exchange of contracts.
During the pre-contract stage, the Law Society's Protocol forms guide solicitors and conveyancers in gathering essential information about the property and its title. This includes details about the property, existing mortgages, and relevant planning permissions.
Conveyancing protocol forms also play a pivotal role during the exchange of contracts. They provide a structured framework for parties to disclose information. These forms cover aspects such as the Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form, which outlines what is included or excluded from the sale. This helps both the buyer and seller know exactly what to expect from the property exchange.
What types of questions are in the protocol forms?
The types of questions asked in the conveyancing protocol forms depend on the form and its purpose.
The Property Information Form includes queries about any existing mortgages, rights of way, restrictions, and other issues that may legally affect the property. Information related to planning permissions and building regulations is also commonly included to ensure compliance with local regulations.
There will also be protocol form questions focusing on the physical aspects of the property. The Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form addresses what items are included or excluded from the sale, avoiding misunderstandings between buyers and sellers.
The forms also inquire about ongoing disputes, notices, or potential issues that might affect the property, such as any instances of Japanese Knotweed, radon gas or flooding. This comprehensive approach ensures that both parties and their legal representatives have a clear understanding of the property, minimising the risk of post-transaction complications.
Can a buyer make a claim against you if the protocol forms are inaccurate?
Yes, a buyer may be able to make a claim against you if you fill out the forms inaccurately. Sellers are not advised to give incorrect/inaccurate or incomplete information. In addition to the possibility that a buyer might pull out as a consequence, it is clearly stated that ’the buyer may make a claim for compensation from you’.
Depending on whether or not you innocently, negligently or fraudulently answered the questions inaccurately in the Property Information Form, the buyer may be entitled to claim damages from you.
Normally the measure of damages awarded to a buyer is based on ‘diminution in value ‘, or the difference between what a buyer would have paid for the property knowing about the issue, and what they paid for it at the time. This may not necessarily reflect the actual cost to the buyer in fixing the issue. However, in some cases, additional damages can be awarded to cover this.
It is important to be aware that the onus is on the buyer to ask all the questions that they want answers to. If an issue arises further down the line that the seller was not asked about and therefore did not disclose. It is unlikely that the buyer would be able to make a claim. Qualified solicitors can assist you with asking all the relevant questions to make sure the property you are looking to buy meets your needs.
Get in touch with our conveyancing solicitors
If you are buying or selling a property and you would like to speak to one of our expert conveyancers about protocol forms, we will be happy to hear from you.