Although conveyancing does not define solicitors in the same way as advocacy does the Bar, it did produce about half of a solicitor's income for much of the twentieth century. Solicitors became conveyancers almost by accident. After successfully challenging the Scriveners' Company's monopoly in the City of London in 1760, solicitors still shared the market with them, licensed conveyancers, barristers, and laypeople. When Prime Minister Pitt sought to raise the stamp duty on practising certificates and articles in 1804 to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, solicitors demanded and readily obtained a monopoly over conveyancing. To preserve its members' role in conveyancing, the Society delayed land registration for many years, with the result that little more than a third of homes were registered as late as 1984. The 1979 Royal Commission unconditionally endorsed the monopoly, urging that the newly appointed provincial notaries lose the power to convey and penalties for unauthorized practice be increased.
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