Des Hudson writes letter to Head of Lending at HSBC

Des Hudson, Law Society Chief Executive, has written a letter to HSBC’s Head of Lending, following a discussion on BBC Moneybox, offering the same, or comparable, panel management service.
Dear Martijn

Conveyancing Panel Arrangements

During our BBC Moneybox discussions last weekend on the subject of HSBC’s panel  arrangements, I mentioned another bank’s decision to employ the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) as the basis for their panel management arrangements — Clydesdale/Yorkshire announced their plans to use CQS on Monday.
I am writing to offer HSBC a similar or comparable panel management service in relation to solicitors, without charge.  We will also provide this service to other lenders who might wish to take it up.  Given this is a matter of some importance to many hundreds of solicitors’ firms and their clients, I thought it would be helpful for both of our organisations if I set out in a little more detail what I have in mind.  Given the significance of this matter I have taken the step of sharing these proposals with the profession, not least because our discussions on the radio were clearly in the public domain.

It is clear that while our respective assessment methodologies and measures may differ in detail, most of the objectives and assessment areas which HSBC require in relation to the competence and probity of the solicitors on the panel are mirrored by those in the CQS accreditation algorithm.

The CQS approach provides a robust and effective system for assessing a firm’s probity and the capability of its conveyancing team.  Within the terms of the CQS scheme, each firm must apply for annual reaccreditation and is subject to annual reassessment and, where appropriate (for example in response to complaints, regulatory events or other factors), further periodic or random reassessment.  All of our reassessment procedures include the possibility of unannounced visits to the branch offices or firm concerned.

The Law Society would provide HSBC with a CQS system to enable you to manage your panel and admit a wider range of highly competent and specialist conveyancing solicitors to the panel.  We would make no charge to HSBC or the solicitors’ firms for this service. Thus the administration charges levied per transaction and remitted at present to Countrywide are superfluous and should be removed. 

You clearly have alternative and/or additional requirements in your arrangements with Countrywide which, so far as we can ascertain, are directed predominantly towards service issues and speed of completion.  It may be that you would want  to continue to manage that element of the process.  If so, we would be happy to discuss this further. 

It follows from this that your current restriction on fees chargeable by the conveyancer  would fall away, although I recognise you may wish to limit the fee element relating to the work done on behalf of the bank.  This would better enable you to meet your objective of maximising the proportion of HSBC transactions with joint solicitor representation of the purchaser/borrower and the bank.

There may be a cost involved in building real time links between our systems and the bank’s, although I doubt you will need them. Clearly I would expect HSBC to meet those costs, although we would work with you  to minimise cost if a link were necessary.

This approach would be in the interests of home buyers, the bank and solicitors who choose to seek membership of your panel under these terms.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Who knows what the outcome is likely to be but surely HSBC should be seriously considering an offer such as this?
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