Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Veyo has the momentum but will it prove to be a winner?

Much of the negative press generated by Veyo has emerged in my view from what can only be described as an identity crisis.    An issue which has caused some analysts and potential clients confusion about Veyo’s objectives and long term aims.   This lack of a clear and consistent message is a little difficult to understand when one acknowledges the success of Veyo’s branding and its PR machine.  Indeed it has within the last five days picked up five prestigious marketing awards.  So what has gone wrong?

I recently met with Stefanie van den Haak Veyo’s Commercial Director to put this and other questions to her.  My first impressions was this is a lady with a mission and one which she is determined to make a success. Stefanie is a lawyer and has much experience, as well as a good track record in bringing to the legal market intuitive and much advanced technical based products. She has held senior sales and business development roles at Lawtel (Centaur Media) and Thomson Reuters where she was instrumental in bringing Westlaw, the primary online research services for lawyers, to market. She was also EMEA Sales Director at Cambridge University Press.   She clearly knows her market and the difficulty of overcoming the inevitable hurdles of introducing technology to a very traditionalist legal community.

She struck me as someone who is passionate about her work and is relishing the challenge which she acknowledges she will face.

So what has gone wrong?   Stephanie says she inherited when joining Veyo a team which lacked direction and which struggled to understand the correct message to convey.    She has now understood the need to be more transparent and to acknowledge that Veyo is a case management system and one which will compete with existing case management systems.   The time has come according to Stefanie to declare that Veyo is in business to compete with the other case management systems and to deliver a system which will revolutionise the tools currently available to manage and advance conveyancing transactions.

Hooray – at last we now know Veyo is a case management system which has features which will distinguish it from existing case management systems and which if successful will bring conveyancing into the 21sts century.   So what distinguishs it?  Unlike other systems Veyo will allow solicitors to collaborate online and to move away from traditionalist practices. Bye-bye to pigeon post and the delays associated with it.  Good bye to the restraints and delays caused with antiquated means of communication and hello to an age when the consumer’s interests are put first.  Solicitors speaking with each other and collaborating on documents in real time and thereby making the conveyancing system far quicker and efficient.

As I have said before Veyo heralds a radical change in approach to conveyancing and one which is well overdue. With Stefanie leading the way and with the strength of belief in the product there is a glimmer of hope that a revolution is about to be born. 

Despite the drive and optimism evident in the positive language Stefanie uses I still have reservations about the future of Veyo.   The product will undoubtedly be good and reliable – it comes from a very good stable and one which has an excellent track record.  It will clearly deliver what is says on the tin and will give conveyancers the tools to communicate with each other electronically and to make the conveyancing a more enjoyable experience for everyone.  I have no doubts about this.  My reservations centre around take up of the product and the need to recognise the importance of a change in philosophy towards the approach to conveyancing.  

According to Stephanie Veyo is looking to achieve a 90% share of the CMS market within six years.  Clearly if this can be achieved Veyo will become a roaring success and investors in Veyo will see a good return on their investment. The question is can such a target be reached within what is a relatively short time frame?   Everything is possible but there are hurdles some bigger than others. 
There are firms out there are technology savvy and which will embrace the values of Veyo and its objectives. However will these firms be sufficient in number to provide Veyo with the critical mass it requires to make the collaboration and chain view tools the success they deserve to be? 

I continue to have my doubts that the conveyancing community as a whole will prove to be receptive to such fundamental changes.  How many conveyancer are out there who are ready to move to electronic files, to begin communicating with each other electronically and to collaborate online with other firms?  Some may say they are ready but have not thought through the consequences of making such a radical change.  As I pointed out to Stefanie there are a number of firms who don’t wish to change.  They like the client contract and the traditional practices of managing a transaction with a dictation machine in one hand and a pile of files in the other.  They have always worked this way and probably see no reason for changing.

So for Veyo to be the success which Stefanie and her team (and shareholders) hope it will be there is a need for those who have good case management systems to abandon those systems and convert to Veyo, for those who do not have a case management system to adopt Veyo in preference to other systems, and for those adopters to embrace a huge leap in technology and the way in which conveyancing is processed.

Do I think Veyo will succeed?  Meeting with Stefanie has change my view slightly.   Her belief in the product and ability to sell in a market which is in desperate need for change and for a product of this type is compelling.  I am just not sure however it’s enough.  I know how difficult it is to persuade lawyers particularly the traditionalists to change processes and to adopt and embrace technology. Looking to bring about a change in philosophy may prove to be a more difficult challenge than might first appear. 

On top of this is the cost factor. £20 per transaction is not a lot of money and given the benefits which are included represents good value.  The problem is are firms with existing case management systems willing to pay for two systems at a time when profit margins are very tight.  Despite the low cost of the system one cannot ignore the economics.   Perhaps we will see some firms abandoning existing systems and moving to Veyo.

Another hurdle to overcome is the fear of might happen in the future.   If Veyo achieves a monopoly can we sleep safely knowing there will not be a sharp price increase in the future?  What if the Law Society connection is severed and Veyo moves into the conveyancing market as a provider of conveyancing services?  What will happen if Veyo uses if position in the market to begin dictating to users the choice of search and other third party suppliers?  In short would it be good for the conveyancing market and indeed the consumer for Veyo to have such a large share of the market.

I am sure now Veyo has come out of the closet and announced its arrival as a case management system that those already in this market will not sit back and allow market share to be eroded but will fight back and introduce innovative technology which will compete.  Those who do not take this as a wakeup call will surely not survive particularly when one has regards to the determination and drive which I witnessed when speaking with Stefanie.  She is not a loser and will clearly do all she can to make Veyo a big success.

Morgan Jones and Pett 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 davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Don't put your client's conservatory at risk

The very first thing to establish is whether what you are building actually is a conservatory. 



There is no definition in the Regulations of exactly what constitutes a conservatory. This can make it hard to judge whether what is built will be be regarded by your Local Authority as a conservatory or an extension. 




This is crucial as as extension usually requires planning consent and is subject to greater building regulation requirements, while a conservatory usually does not require planning consent and the building regulation requirements are much more relaxed.

Conveyancers are good at asking questions about the planning and building regulation consent history behind conservatories forming part of properties being purchased, but less attentive to analysing and applying the answers received.  

Below are some general questions ( with guidance on how to treat the answers) which may help. They are not definitive and you should always when considering these matters have reference to the Planning Portal. 

Was planning permission required?

Is there a wall within the existing external dwelling which exists between the dwelling and the newly constructed conservatory? If there is not then the general rule is that the work will be viewed as an extension and planning permission would be required.

Was building regulation approval required?

Is it built at ground level?   If not and is more than a single storey in height then building regulation approval would be required.

Does it have a floor area of less than 30 square meters i.e. the same as a parking space for a car?  If it is more, then building regulation would be required.

Does the glazing comply with Part N of the building regulations?  If not then building re building regulation would be required.

Does the electrical work have its own ring main, or is extended from an existing room classed as a special location, such as a kitchen? If so it must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations, which deals with electrical safety. If not then building regulation approval would be required.

Does it have an independent heating system with separate temperature and on/off controls? If not then building regulations would be required.


Is there a new opening within the existing dwelling which creates access into the new conservatory if so then this will require building regulation approval? 

It is important to note that even if building regulation approval is not required for the conservatory construction the glazing and the electrical work would still need separate consents.

Keep also in mind that if you are acting for a purchaser and have concerns about consents it is important to check the detailed requirements which you can find on the Planning Portal: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/conservatories/

Care must be taken because if a problem subsequently emerges then enforcement action can be taken by the Local Authority, which could result in the demolition of the extension.

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 davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk