At the first, of what is expected to become an annual event in the legal calendar, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), the trade body representing the conveyancing profession, yesterday unveiled its Lender’s Panel Proposition: SLC Quality Assured which many are already comparing to the CQS for solicitors.
The new quality mark, which has already been shared with leading industry bodies, including the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and the Building Societies Association (BSA), reduces the risk of fraud for Lenders who opt to use SLC Quality Assured panel members. At the same time, the idea aims to ensure that all SLC member firms have access to all mortgage Lenders’ panels. The SLC claim that key to the delivery of this proposition has been the constructive and collaborative approach with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), the statutory regulator.
The unveiling of SLC Quality Assured by Mike Ockenden at the Derby conference provided the first opportunity for SLC members and other conveyancers to offer their feedback and input on the proposition, before it is officially launched to market next year.
With mortgage fraud high on the agenda for Lenders due to unprecedented losses, many are undertaking new measures to restrict those conveyancers accepted onto their panels. SLC Assured is designed to help the Licensed Conveyancing community, by ensuring they are part of any restricted panels.
As part of this new solution the SLC claim that the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) will take on the role of gatekeeper, controlling panel qualification and providing Lenders with the added assurance that all SLC panel firms are fully regulated and bound by a rigorous set of criteria.
Licensed Conveyancers, licensed by the CLC, will be automatically ‘passported’ onto SLC Quality Assured and can apply to become panel members, which will activate the certification process. Once activated, panel firms will be required to register every new transaction with the SLC system and information on the transaction’s progress will be made available to the Lender at critical points throughout the process. This information will also be made available to the regulator.
Throughout the process, constant monitoring of the firm managing the transaction will be undertaken by a central operations team, provided by the SLC, alongside monitoring of the ‘other party’ firm.
As yet it is unclear what the cost of this service will be to conveyancers.
John Clay, Chairman of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, commented: “Through our new solution, which covers the Licensed Conveyancing community across England and Wales, Lenders will be able to benefit from reduced fraud risk and additional transaction protection. The solution will also allow Lenders to demonstrate an inclusive policy with regards to Licensed Conveyancers and smaller firms.
“While the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) has gone some way to addressing the issues associated with Lenders’ panels, it has been our experience that Lenders see the CQS as just part of the overall solution. We felt there was a gap in the market for a universally accepted and recognised standard, designed specifically for Licensed Conveyancers, which builds on the strong regulatory framework provided by the CLC. We believe that SLC Quality Assured will fill this gap.”
SLC Quality Assured, which will be monitored centrally by the SLC, is delivered by TMSecure – a sophisticated, user friendly system, which connects mortgage Lenders with their panel firms.
We at Today’s Conveyancer hope that SLC QA is able to deliver all that is claimed for it and that CLC regulated firms will embrace the idea. We are already aware of CQS conveyancing firms that have been removed from lenders panels and when we talk to lenders about the reasons why they have done this it is clear that there is still a big gap between lenders and conveyancers regarding the management of risk.