Before we become defensive and begin casting negative thoughts lets wait for the detail to be supplied. Why do we all look at the introduction of new systems as an attack on our profession? We should for the moment keep an open mind, writes David Pett, Director of MJP Conveyancing Limited.
My thoughts in the meantime are as follows:
A platform of this type was inevitable and if it is introduced properly can only serve as an effective means of combating fraud and ensuring consistency on lender panel criteria. The sooner the profession comes to terms with the fact that conveyancing is there for the serious players and not the ‘dabblers’ the better it will be for us all. Why should we not accept with open arms a system which will allow us to apply to join all panels with one application and hopefully one fee? Why not allow a system to operate which will ensure consistency in application of anti fraud and money laundering measures? The Santander portal should demonstrate to us all that lenders are entitled to be stringent in their vetting and control over firms who handle their money. I am shocked by the level of contribution to the solicitor indemnity fund which we are expected to make this year. We should all be asking ourselves why is so high and what is being done to ensure that those who do not have correct and effective systems and processes in place are not allowed to practice in property law.
Surely a portal of this type must be a more attractive option than separate representation. If firms can not get onto the panel of lenders then there must I agree be good reason for this and if there is then we should respect that. Looking at the Land Registry Data there are literally thousands of firms who only undertake a few completions each month - is it completely unthinkable that these firms should be excluded from lender panels?
As for the Law Society Portal do we need this, surely the money would be better spent promoting CQS firms to the public and looking at ways of changing and improving our archaic system for conveying property. Why spend money building a system when the current system as we all know does not work! Madness. Why also waste time and money building a system when the national protocol around which it will be built is not compulsory. What happens when one firm who has bought into the portal deals with a firm which has not or where there is chain and one firm is sitting outside the portal?
Why also add costs to the process when most firms who take conveyancing seriously already have sophisticated case management systems? These systems will need to be adapted and integrated so as to avoid duplication - yet more cost which we could do without.
At the end of the day we all know that whatever the Law Society touches turns to dust as the Law Society’s HIP offering clearly demonstrated. Do we therefore need to worry or be pro active in our response to their proposals? They approved a contractor without consultation with members and are now determined to waste our money on a scheme which has ‘doom’ written all over it.
I hope I am proved wrong.