Chapter 13: Legal Services in Conveyancing: A European Comparison
Christoph U. Schmid I. INTRODUCTION Conveyancing markets range among the biggest markets in Europe. Indeed, land and buildings account for between half and three quarters of country wealth in most European economies. Thus, the overall value of UK houses is estimated at more than £1 trillion (2006). In Germany in 2005, the taxable turnover of real estate transactions amounted to 136 885 million, which corresponded to a tax revenue of nearly 4.8 billion (figures of the Federal Ministry of Finance). It is obvious that given these values the transactions costs associated with conveyancing services – that is all the agent, legal and technical services needed for the transfer of land – have crucial implications not only for buyers and sellers but also for the overall economy. Legal services in conveyancing, on which this contribution will focus, are in continental Europe traditionally rendered by liberal professionals such as notaries and lawyers; the Scandinavian model of legally trained estate agents who provide legal services, too, has not been adopted anywhere else. Lawyers and notaries are not only among the oldest but also among the most regulated professions in Europe. In a large number of Member States, regulations exist which cover pricing (for example fixed fee scales), advertising (for example restrictions or bans on comparative or price advertising), limitations on interprofessional co-operation and business structure. Liberal professions also enjoy a wide range of exclusive rights. Therefore, given these restrictions, it may plausibly be presumed that the economic potential of the conveyancing services market is not...
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