Lenders address the Conveyancing Association on panel management

Last Thursday the Conveyancing Association held its All Member Meeting at the Russell Hotel.  The meeting was sponsored by Moneypenny.  Santander and Lloyds Banking Group addressed the group and explained their thinking to avoid fraud in conveyancing.

Tracey Carr, Financial Crime Manager at Santander, and Alison Clair, Manager, Secured Fraud External Relations at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), yesterday gave their support to industry-wide cooperation on the collection of panel data. 

Speaking at an All-Member Meeting of the Conveyancing Association, the lenders welcomed the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) as a positive development but highlighted scepticism among some lenders about how successful the scheme will be. 

Conveyancing Association members heard that the lending industry, facilitated by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), is working to develop a central repository of information which individual lenders, and conveyancers with a desire to drive down fraud, can use to eradicate data duplication and speed up panel registration processes. 

Alison Clair said: 

“The introduction of the CQS is a step forward in the industry as the scheme will create an accredited community, and more awareness of the fraud risks, which will help to deter fraud and drive up standards of conveyancing. The scheme is still in its infancy and therefore its overall success remains to be seen.” 

Tracey Carr said: 

“A data repository where all lenders can access the same information will benefit both lender and lawyer firms and could be used by lenders when establishing who they will allow on their panel, which will speed up the registration process and will eradicate duplication of data. Lenders all agree they must still have their own panel criteria which is different for all lenders.” 

On separate representation, Carr said:

“The lack of clarity over responsibilities within the conveyance has created a potential for fraud. We find that Part 3 of the CML handbook has addressed this and alleviated the fraud risk considerably. Customers should have the right to choose a firm of their choice, but where they choose a non-panel member, Santander and Lloyds both have a policy to instruct a conveyancer of the lender’s choice.”  

On Alternative Business Structures (ABS), Clair said:

“While there are currently very few ABS entrants to the market, they would not be refused entrance to LBG’s panel on the basis of their ABS status but would undergo the same due diligence process as solicitors and licensed conveyancers. Although the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have confirmed that their vetting process for ABS firms will mirror the current one, the industry is still awaiting further detail about how the SRA will enhance it in certain areas." 

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the CA, said:

“I am encouraged by the work of Santander, Lloyds and other lenders to develop a system that will help serious conveyancers meet their risk management obligations without incurring unreasonable costs. The Conveyancing Association is assisting the industry with its work to reduce the incidence of fraud and I am delighted that industry representatives can engage with our members on occasions such as this. I look forward to continuing dialogue with Tracey, Alison and their colleagues over the coming months.”

The Conveyancing Association says it is working with lenders to ensure that members offer a superior service, can demonstrate high quality standards, competence and probity of staff, financial stability, and good management of staff and administrative processes. 
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