When you instruct a firm of solicitors you will need to prove your identity.

Anti-money Laundering legislation and regulations require professionals, including solicitors working in certain fields, to be satisfied as to the identity of people with whom they deal. That includes for instance checking that solicitors on the other side of a transaction are bona fide solicitors, and also requires us to be satisfied as to the identity of our own clients.

This is how we deal with identification requirements at Thompson Smith and Puxon: When you instruct us to act for you, we will send you an initial letter setting out the terms on which we will be acting for you, our obligations to you and your obligations as the client. We will normally need to see you in person with your original identification documents.  The first document required, as evidence that you are who you say you are, is usually your current passport or photo driving licence, but if these are not available there are other types of photo ID that will be accepted and we will be able to discuss options with you. We will check that the photograph on your document is a true likeness of you and, with your permission, will take a photocopy of the original for our file, certifiying it as representing a true likeness.

A second document is required as proof of your current address. This could be, for example, a bank statement or utility bill less than 3 months old.  We will again take a copy and certify it to confirm that the original has been seen. There are a number of other documents that are accepted as “proof of address”.

The copies we take of each of these documents are held on your file and a copy is also held on a central firm register so that if you instruct the firm again within a short period of time you will not need to go through the process again.  However, we do need to have up to date identification records on file, so if you instruct us on a new matter some time after we have completed previous work for you, we will need to ask you for up to date details at that stage.

If we are unable to meet you in person to verify your identification evidence, perhaps because you live in another part of the country, we will ask that you visit a solicitor, or other appropriate professional, local to you so that they can deal with verification of your identification evidence, and then provide you with properly certified copies for you to pass on to us.

The “Identity Document Checking Service”  offered by the Post Office is not sufficient for these purposes as it is exactly what it claims to be – a document checking service.  While the Post Office will certify photocopies as being true copies of the original document, they will not certify that photo ID carries a true likeness of the person producing it.

Should you have no photographic identification at all, then we will need to see three items of “secondary” ID, confirming your current address.

As well as complying with the Money Laundering Regulations it is also a requirement of the Land Registry that every individual who deals in land has had their identification verified.  If one party to a transaction has not instructed a solicitor to act for them they will still need to see a solicitor to complete a form ID1 and provide their identification documents.  Solicitors will usually only charge a nominal fee for this.