Lender wakes up to the issues of low volume conveyancing firms

Following action taken earlier this year by Santander, and Britannia, Lloyds Banking Group has decided to review the criteria for membership of its conveyancing panels, according to the Gazette.
It is reported that the plan is to reduce the number of firms it instructed using a ‘risk based’ model that it says will allow Lloyds Banking Group to assess firms individually.  Firms conducting low volumes of conveyancing transactions in any 12 month period will be removed.
Today’s Conveyancer has obtained information from Land Registry to show that over 1000 firms only make one application to Land Registry each month.  It seems clear that a large number of firms are dabbling in conveyancing without the necessary volume of work to be up to date and have the appropriate risk based approaches to work management that are required by the Code of Conduct.
The Gazette reported the Law Society property spokesman Paul Marsh as saying: ‘The Law Society is disappointed to learn of these decisions by Lloyds Banking Group but recognises that like any client, they are entitled to chose which firms they instruct.
‘We will continue to engage with the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Building Societies Association and individual lenders encouraging them to recognise that a “one-size-fits-all” model is not the best way to address lenders’ concerns in the current economic climate.’
Marsh added that because the Lloyds group provides banking services to a large number of solicitors, this should give it greater understanding of the way firms operate when it comes to carrying out the review.
Many solicitors that conduct conveyancing day in day out will know the challenges caused by conveyancers who don’t know what they are doing and the risks faced when solicitors dabble in areas of law they are not regularly practicising in and will be surprised by the disappointment expressed by the Law Society.  Anything that prevents infrequent conveyancers from dabbling and presenting risk to insurers at a time when professional indemnity insurance premiums are going through the roof should be welcomed.
The Gazette when on to say that the firms involved will receive letters during the next month and it reported firms that are to be removed will still be entitled to carry out ‘pipeline cases’ and the panels will remain open to new applicants, who will have to meet the volume threshold within 12 months of membership.
Lloyds Banking Group declined to comment.
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