There are two types of solicitor involved in the progression of an equity release loan. It is a key criterion for those equity release providers who are members of the Equity Release Council that both they and the customer have separate legal representation. This is primarily to avoid any conflict of interest between the parties and to ensure that the customer has independent advice.
For the homeowner, the role of their solicitor is to ensure that they understand the long-term nature of an equity release contract and proceed with full knowledge of the risks and rewards, as well as the legal obligations of the plan.
The product providers have their own separate legal representation in the transaction – their legal representative’s role will be primarily to ensure that the provider is able to secure a first legal charge over the property on which the loan is being taken out.
Independent legal advice is one of the key features of the Council’s rules and is regarded as an essential aspect of consumer protection. Ideally, the solicitor advising the homeowner should offer to see the customer in person, but where it is more convenient for the customer, arrangements can be made to see a local solicitor, who will act as the agent of the advising solicitor. It is always the responsibility of the advising solicitor’s firm to sign off the Solicitor’s Certificate.
In this context the term solicitor refers to any solicitor, licensed conveyancer, chartered legal executive or barrister with acceptable professional indemnity insurance and a current practising certificate with their regulator, which is the requirement to undertake equity release legal work.