I’m afraid you’ll just have to cheque it out

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty explains why solicitors limit the amount of cash they will accept from a client
Question: I have to pay a deposit of £15,000 to my solicitors in relation to a house I am buying for £150,000. I wanted to pay £1,000 in cash, but my solicitors have said that they cannot accept a cash payment of that amount, and that I must pay the money into my bank account and then pay them £15,000 by way of an electronic transfer. I have already organised a transfer of £14,000 and will have to pay a fee to stop this and change it to £15,000. I have saved £1,000 and fail to see what the problem is.

Answer: A solicitor who conducts property transactions is at risk of falling foul of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, and accordingly must carry out customer due diligence which among other things involves ensuring that the client can be indentified and that the source of the client’s money is known.

A money launderer could, for instance, obtain money from illegal means and then pay that money to a solicitor in respect of a deposit on a property and then not proceed with the purchase.

The solicitor would refund the deposit by repaying the client from the solicitor’s client account and would therefore have “cleaned” the money obtained by illegal means. In the hope of not getting involved in money laundering, solicitors limit the amount of cash they will accept from a client. That limit is often £500.

If you can prove where your savings came from, your solicitors may accept your money in cash. However, you should not be offended if they do not do so, as they are really only acting prudently and properly.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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