Searches : You Have A Choice

You do not need to print, sign and return this form if you are happy for us to make the decision about local search arrangements on your behalf.

These days choice is a much-heralded right that we all want.

Dealings with solicitors are no longer rigid. Whilst much of the work we do has to be done in a particular way to satisfy Government and procedural requirements, one area where choice has developed is in the range and type of property searches that are available and undertaken. This means there is choice both for you and us.

Most clients have heard of local searches, but now there is a whole raft of different types of searches available to clients – local, plan, environmental, tin mining, coal mining, chancel repairs, Cheshire brine, drainage – and more. Some are compulsory to satisfy lenders, whilst others are optional at your request – please therefore see the separate Guidance Notes on these, and the Additional Specialist Search Request form available on request if you want us to undertake any of the additional listed searches.

There are also a number of different ways in which searches can be done:-

  • directly to the relevant authority for an official search;
  • via one of three national third party computer hubs (NLIS);
  • personally by us;
  • via a selection of personal search agents appointed by us;
  • or we can process the personal search as our (not yours) agents.

Although some of the personal search agents that we appoint provide the personal search result at lower costs than official searches, we charge fees for liaising with, co-ordinating and achieving bulk purchase performance advantages, and a managed procedure and our fees charged to you are set at the sums quoted for consistency and in relation to local searches so that the total cost to you is the same as the cost that would otherwise be payable to the local authority providing an official search. These charges are ALWAYS lower than those that we would charge on a time recording basis if our fee earner personally conducted the personal search. However, the charges of the personal search agent vary according to the buying power of the third party companies or us and you will not benefit from this as the third party companies or ourselves retain the difference for managing the procedure and as the client you are unable to apply for a personal search yourself.

We would consider offering 2 options:

  1. Instructing us to obtain an official search.
  2. Instructing us to obtain via our own staff or outsource agent for a personal search.

The total cost to you of each of the above is identical. The cost is specified in the instruction form.

It may help to highlight a few of the differences and advantages/disadvantages of the different options:

  • With an official search, if there is an error in the result, you would have a direct claim against the local authority though they do contain exclusion clauses.
  • With a personal search, if there is an error, you are fully protected, firstly under our indemnity insurance cover, but also under our company search agent’s insurance as we have a contractual relationship with them.

A disadvantage of official searches is that we are entirely in the hands of the relevant authority as to how long the search will take, and local authorities in particular are invariably unwilling/unable to be chased to queue-jump search applications.

With a personal search, however, we believe there is greater opportunity for the result to be procured more quickly than an official search result.

Given the above and given that the total cost to you would be the same whichever option you choose unless you have a particular or alternative preference (in which case you are free to let us know), we will proceed under option 2.

We hope the above notes are of use to you.


1 – You do not need to return the form or take any action if you are happy for us to adopt the proposed route suggested by us above whereby we will arrange for and manage the personal searches via our personal search agents or our own staff.


2. If you do want us to take any other course of action, then please click here to download a copy of the form to print, sign and return to us.

You do not need to print, sign and return the form if you are happy for us to make the decision about local search arrangements on your behalf.

Further Information on Buying Property

More information and guides to help you with the process of buying property in England and Wales

Buying A Home

To help you understand the process of buying your home, we have detailed the usual steps completed by the various parties involved.

Download our Guide to Buying

Issues When Buying

We have uncovered many incidences where lies on sellers’ property information forms have caused problems in the buying process.

Find out more

Search Choices

Part of the conveyancing process involves ‘searches’. We cover your choices in this area, and what they mean for you

Find out more