Law Society releases HSBC update to members

The Chief Executive of the Law Society, Desmond Hudson yesterday released a letter to members with an update on the situation with the HSBC.  The HSBC in January announced that it had opted for 100% separate representation unless the conveyancer is on a panel of only just over 40 firms.
The Law Society as a response to this in February issued a letter calling for solicitors to campaign against this action.  They have provided template letters for writing to MPs and clients.  Desmond Hudson’s report from yesterday follows up on this.  The letter is reproduced below:
Dear Colleagues
 
I wanted to update you further on the situation with HSBC. What is emerging is that the efforts of the profession and the Society combined are ensuring that consumers, politicians, HSBC customers and other bodies are becoming more aware of the detrimental impact of HSBC’s actions.
 
Many of you have used our toolkit and letters to lobby politicians and as a result of this the Society has been contacted by a number of MPs for further information and also the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, in the Welsh Government, Edwina Hart. It is important that we all maintain this pressure and I would encourage anyone who has not yet done so to contact their local MP. Our regional managers are very aware of the issues and can provide additional information should you require it. 
 
It is clear that for house buyers using HSBC that delays are emerging and the Society understands that a number of estate agents are beginning to associate HSBC mortgage customers with delays to the process, which threaten what are already very delicate property chains.  We are aware that some estate agents are advising caution to consumers who are considering an HSBC mortgage.
 
We know that many of you are highlighting to your clients the potential additional costs and delays associated with HSBC’s current panel management structure and that as a result some clients are opting to go to another lender. We are also aware that many clients have made this decision without speaking to their solicitor as they have witnessed firsthand the difficulties of negotiating the increasingly complex process which was an inevitable result of HSBC’s decision to limit the panel. 
 
The publicity that has been generated around this issue has not gone unnoticed, for example the issue has been a topic of discussion amongst consumers on the popular forum Mumsnet and personal finance website Moneysavingexpert.com which once again proves that the impact of HSBC’s actions are not just felt by the profession but also by the consumer.
 
We will continue to highlight these issues and concerns in the media, particularly the lack of local access as a result of a 43 firm panel. I would encourage you to write to your local paper to highlight the impact on your local community.
 
I am aware that further versions of undertakings have now been issued which I hope will address previous held concerns. Clearly we will continue to consider any issues raised by the profession.
 
The Law Society will continue to prioritise this issue both through dialogue with HSBC and suitable lobbying. 
 
Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society
The mumsnet forum does suggest that some consumers have experienced problems of delay which they see as being a result of the separate representation.  However, it is not clear whether these problems are felt by the majority of HSBC customers.
Rob Hailstone of the Bold Group comments that:
“It is good to see that the Law Society realises that emotions still run high with regard to HSBC. However, whilst MP contact is not discouraged the recent uninspiring letter from Michael Gove and vague face to face response from Vince Cable indicates that political lobbying alone will not be enough.”
The Bold Group has also started an epetition in respect of this issue, which can be found here.  Further information can also be found at [email protected].
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