Wednesday, 13 November 2013

CQS and Lender Exchange - Lets keep an open mind

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. 

My property transaction is moving much too slowly. How can I speed it up?

Despite what you may hear from family and friends conveying a house or flat is not as straightforward as you may think.    There is not such animal as a ‘straightforward’ transaction and in the majority of cases there are issues which need to be addressed not only on your behalf but also on behalf of your lender if  you are borrowing money. 

Conveyancing takes time – most ‘delays’ are nothing of the sort, it just takes time to get searches and replies to enquiries and in many respects your solicitor is dependant on others over whom there is little control to provide input.   If you are in chain, everyone goes at the pace of the slowest link.  

Do ask you solicitor why things are going at the pace they are. Some are more proactive than others – if they are vague or don’t return phone calls then it is worth pressing them or asking to speak to a partner or director.

Estate agents can be important in chasing the seller and rest of chain to return documents as your solicitor will only be dealing with the other solicitors involved on your sale and/or purchase. Remember however estate agents have a vested interest in ensuring that transactions are progressed promptly and therefore some do become embroiled in the game of blame apportionment.   Don't always believe an agent if the agent says its your solicitor who is dragging his or her heels. 

Imposing a deadline can sometimes work but it is risky. It should only be used if you are actually prepared to withdraw if it is not met. Imposing a deadline should only be used if people really are delaying – there is a good chance that it will not achieve anything as if there is a genuine hold-up then it will be impossible for it to be resolved any quicker and will just aggravate everyone involved in the chain. 

If there is a major delay you will need to decide whether you are happy to wait or not. Please try to keep a good relationship and a three way dialogue with conveyancer, agent and your seller or buyer.  This is the best way to ensure that a transaction goes smoothly – just remember, some things do take a while!

Always work with and not against your solicitor and keep in mind that your solicitor may be handling a large number of transactions in addition to yours.    Only ever contact your solicitor if is absolutely essential.  Many solicitors find it difficult to progress transactions because of the time they spend ion the phone answering routine client requests for updates. 

Some solicitors operate as we do online updating software which makes it easy to obtain progress reports 24/7. MJP Conveyancing are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at