Why do Solicitors need to check your ID?
Posted on 19th December 2019
As all of our clients will experience when instructing our team of solicitors in Lancaster, or one of our teams of solicitors in Preston, we will always ask you to provide two forms of ID: one photographic, which is still in date, and one proof of your address, dated within the previous three months to your instruction date.
Many of our clients roll their eyes – “I don’t have a current proof of my address. Everything is online, now!” and we explain “We understand that, but we have to have a proof of your address for Anti-Money Laundering Purposes”. Eventually, our clients come through, and manage to provide us with something. However, it can be frustrating for both them, and us, when it causes them any difficulty to obtain it.
So, why do we (oh so annoyingly) ask our clients to provide their ID?
Well, following the introduction of The Money Laundering Regulations 2007, when certain transactions take place, including most legal work, a person’s identity must be checked.
According to the gov.uk website, the following forms of ID are accepted by them as proof of your identity:
1. Proof of your name
• Current, signed Passport
• Original birth certificate
• EEA member state identity card (which doubles as a proof of address, if the full postal address is stated on there)
• Current UK or EEA driving licence
• Full, old-style driving licence (however, with these being phased-out, this could change in the future)
• Photographic registration cards for self-employed people in the construction industry
• Benefit book / original notification letter for the Benefits Agency
• Firearms or shotgun licence
• Residence permit, issued by the Home Office, to EEA nationals
• National Identity card, including a photograph
2. Proof of your address
• Utility bill (within 3 months)
• Council Tax Bill for the current year
• Current driving licence (if not used as photo ID)
• Bank statement (or equivalent, i.e. building society)
• Original mortgage statement (from a recognised lender) for the last, full year
• Solicitors letter (within 3 months) or letter from the Land Registry confirming a house purchase, showing the address
• Council / housing association rent card or tenancy agreement
• Benefit book / original notification letter from Benefits Agency (but, again, not if it’s used as photo ID)
• HMRC self-assessment letters or tax demand (for the current financial year)
• Electoral Register entry
• NHS medical card / letter from GP’s surgery showing registration
In some cases, clients do not have any photographic ID. Depending on the matter, we will review every case separately. For some transactions, such as buying a house, we would usually ask you to have your identity verified by your GP, or another professional, for example stating that they have known you for ‘X’ number of years, and you have been a patient at the surgery for the same amount of time, etc. For other transactions, we would accept a number of proofs of your address, as an alternative. You would need to speak to our team to find out what we can accept.
We always like to meet our clients in person, during their matter, and we always like to know that the person we are dealing with is, in fact, the person that they say they are.
So, why is it important to make sure our clients are who they say they are?
Well, we’d like to think that none of our clients would ever lie about their identity, but sadly, not all solicitors can say the same. There have been cases in recent years, a notable one being Dreamvar (UK) Ltd v Mishcon de Reya and others in which a fraudster managed to convince solicitors, Mischon de Reya (‘Mishcon’) and Mary Monson Solicitors (‘MMS’), that they were the owner of a property in London, by fraudulently obtaining the real owner’s driving licence and TV licence.
Mishcon were instructed to act on behalf of Dreamvar, the purchasers, an existing client of the firm. The matter proceeded quickly, and Mishcon paid the property purchase price of £1.1 million to MMS, and MMS transferred funds to the ‘seller’ (or the fraudster, in this case) and the money disappeared.
So, the purchasers made a claim against both solicitors. Originally, the Court held that Mishcon were in more of a position to bear the costs of the liability, given that they had greater public liability insurance than MMS and therefore the impact to them would be greater. However, on appeal, the liability was spread between both at-fault parties.
There will, sadly, probably still be other cases like this in the future, as no one is ‘safe’ from fraudsters, however our team of solicitors in Lancaster and solicitors in Preston carry out all the necessary due diligence checks on our clients, to ensure that they are who they say they are; and that’s why we ask our clients for ID.
So, it may seem annoying when you have to root through all that ‘junk’ sitting in your kitchen cupboard just to find your recent utility bill, but think of it like this: if there was a chance you could lose the money that you were going to use to buy a house, all because your seller’s solicitors didn’t want to trouble their clients for a bank statement to carry out the proper identity checks, you would undoubtedly want to ‘waste’ that five or ten minutes.
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
Tagged as: Conveyancing Solicitors Lancaster, Preston Law, Property Solicitors in Preston, Your Local Solicitors
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