Des Hudson “disappointed” with ongoing HSBC conveyancing panel saga

Des Hudson, Law Society Chief Executive, has met with senior representatives of HSBC, according to the Law Society Gazette, following the slashing of its conveyancing panel a month ago.
Having reduced their conveyancing panel to just 43 firms HSBC are currently facing a backlash from the profession, with calls for bank accounts to be moved away from the banking giant just the tip of the iceberg.  
The Gazette reports that Hudson described the outcomes as “disappointing” and said that he did not expect “any voluntary change of approach from HSBC”.
Hudson is asking all affected firms and local law societies to “redouble their efforts to bring pressure to bear”.  Despite reports that some progress had been made with HSBC agreeing to allow excluded or rejected firms to appeal the decision on their panel membership it appears that HSBC have u-turned.  Des commented:
“Despite previous assurances to the Law Society, Countrywide has now informed us that it will NOT be operating an appeals process for unsuccessful conveyancing panel applications.
“In seeking clarification of whether an appeals process existed, CW confirmed to the Law Society that there was one. CW is now saying that it is not the case. 
“We have received no explanation for this u-turn and we will make it clear to HSBC and Countrywide that this misinformation is unprofessional and unreasonable. The only consistent message here is the high handed way HSBC is treating solicitors.
“We will continue to lobby both HSBC and Countrywide for an appeals process to be instigated.”
There are concerns over the undertakings and requirements of HSBC which appear to risk a firm’s non-compliance with regulatory obligations, transferring the requirements of the lender’s solicitors’ duties to the borrower or purchaser’s solicitor.  Amendments have been made to the undertaking but it would seem that these revisions are still not satisfactory.
Revised versions of the undertakings are to be sent to firms from next month but the Society advises its members not to give undertakings about matters that are not wholly within their control.
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