Licensed Conveyancer speaks out against CML for favouring solicitor practices.

Countrywide’s Nigel Stockton last week criticised the lack of context that accompanied the issue of CML circular 2531, listing the firms that have been accredited under the Law Society CQS scheme.
The circular highlighted the benefits of the CQS without explaining why Licensed Conveyancers could not be accredited.  This leaves readers to potentially misunderstand that failure by Licensed Conveyancers to be CQS accredited was a function of regulation of the legal sector rather than a slur on licensed conveyancers.
Nigel Stockton commented:
“Countrywide is wholly supportive of this approach. It is really good that the Law Society has finally accredited professional solicitors who do good conveyancing work and have achieved a decent standard of work. However Countrywide Conveyancing Services, the largest CLC regulated conveyancing organisation in England and Wales, are disappointed that although the CML has made it clear that licensed conveyancers are not eligible to join the Scheme they have chosen to give no comment or context around this, giving members a rather distorted picture of the industry”.
He went on to say “It is interesting that Linda Lee, President of the Law Society had already concluded (in an article for the Law Society Gazette on 13th January 2011) that “for a variety of reasons licensed conveyancers are currently seen as less of a risk in the context of mortgage fraud". Those reasons relate of course to the strict standards of regulation by the CLC, the experience such firms build up because they specialise only in conveyancing and can devote the time, attention and resources to ensuring they are on top of all industry developments and have strong fraud policies and procedures in place.”
The CLC regulates over 200 conveyancing firms some of which are the largest conveyancers in the country.  None of these firms can apply for CQS even if they wanted to because the scheme is run by the Law Society for solicitors.  Therefore these firms will always be outside of the “trusted conveyancing community” the Law Society wish to create.
Solicitors and licensed conveyancers who exchange contracts with another conveyancer will have to face a number of risk management questions.
Firstly will your firm treat CQS accredited firms on the other side as a lower risk than non CQS firms?  What does this actually mean at an operational level?
Secondly if the “other side” are not CQS accredited they may be a solicitors practice that has never applied, or applied and been rejected or not applied because they are a licensed conveyancer.  Do your risk management and due diligence procedures on these firms alter?
Whilst the concept of a “trusted community” is theoretically appealing it does raise questions of risk management when you are trying to send and receive mortgage advances to firms that are not within the “trusted community” on the back of undertakings.
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