Santander panel review halted

Santander has agreed to put its panel review on hold and postpone its next quarterly review whilst it undergoes consultation with the Law Society.

Many across the industry were angered by the banks decision to remove panel firms based on low activity.

Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society said: “The Law Society views volume of activity as a criterion for panel management as a blunt instrument, particularly when a lender only looks at their own transactions rather than all the conveyancing work done by the firm.

“True dormancy and unexplained reactivation are potential indicators of fraud and our own risk criteria within the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) consider an applicant firm’s total activity in the market."

The Society backed up the feelings of many, by saying that the decision to remove firms based on incomplete activity was unacceptable.

The Law Society stepped in to try and rectify the situation and have commenced discussions with Santander.

These discussions are on-going and Mr Hudson has said: “The bank had already, to a degree, recognised the limitations of its review methodology since in its appeal process it actively sought out information about firms other market activity.

“In our discussions it recognised that unusual market conditions make it inappropriate to assume that low levels of activity with one particular lender equate to lower activity across the market.”

Mr Hudson said that in the future Santander would only make such decisions after suitable collaboration.

Many firms who were removed have successfully appealed for reinstatement. Any firm that has been removed and has not already sought advice should contact the Law Society’s PAS team immediately on 0870 606 2522

Mr Hudson defended the collaborative approach the Society has taken: “Much as we might prefer it otherwise, banks are under no obligation to maintain solicitors on their conveyancing panels.

“However, the Law Society has and will continue to ensure bank mortgage customers can choose to be represented by solicitors — high quality legal advisers.”

Today's Conveyancer