With lenders continuing to prune their panels drastically, many smaller Solicitors firms face the problem of losing clients and going out of business. But one small firm in Cornwall is hitting back. Using social networking sites A P Bassett of Lostwithiel are calling on similar firms and their clients to sign their petition to preserve competition in the Conveyancing market.
Following recent decisions by several major lenders to cull small law firms from their Conveyancing panels, Bassett say “we have decided to fight back because it’s not just about us, but the many communities law firms serve.”
Conveyancing Solicitors unable to act for a buyer’s lender because they are not on a panel will lose clients to a firm which can act for lenders. With many smaller towns up and down the country only having one or two firms doing Conveyancing, if those firms are not on the major panels, they will be in danger of having to close. Clients for all forms of legal services will then find that they have no local Solicitor available, and it is hard to see how either clients or the legal profession benefit.
While some buyers may be happy to find and instruct Conveyancing Solicitors online, or use a factory outfit ‘recommended’ by the seller’s estate agent, many more prefer to use a local firm. Clients like to able to call in and see someone – perhaps a person they have known for years – to sign important documents or for a chat about their case.
In order to ensure a level playing field for all Conveyancing Solicitors, campaigners are calling for lenders to be represented by separate Solicitors on all mortgages. This is an idea which has already been backed by the Law Society of Ireland, and is also being considered in Scotland. Critics argue that this will mean buyers having to pay two lots of legal fees, both their own and those of lenders’ Solicitors.
The campaign claims that while CQS may be a short-term answer, with more and more banks applying to become Alternative Business Structures - meaning they can own legal firms without being legally qualified - "they won’t want solicitors on their panels. To put it another way the banks will not want us, their competitors, on their panels. CQS accredited or not, a competitor is a competitor."
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