Conveyancing firm defends itself following scolding in national press

Specialist conveyancing practice O’Neill Patient Solicitors has defended itself following national newspaper The Times’ publication of a damning editorial on its practices.

The piece, which first appeared on their website on Sunday, is highly critical of the “nightmare” firm, with Consumer Affairs Correspondent Andrew Ellson referring to the negative reviews of nearly 700 clients who have reported “long delays, unanswered phone calls, ignored emails, or general incompetence”.

The Stockport-based firm that employs 550 staff scores just 2.1 stars on reviewsolicitors’ site following 169 reviews. Its scores for satisfaction and likelihood to make a recommendation are roughly a third of the national average. Most of the reviews are similar in their content, with the general trend being one of immense disquiet.

It does, however, score 4.5 stars on Trustpilot following over 15,000 reviews. ONP also say that their ratings on the site are on an upwards trajectory having “increased from 4.3 in Jan 2022 to 4.5 in Dec 2022, with in-month scores trending up from 4.59 in October to 4.67 in January 2023”.

The firm’s CEO Nick Hale told Today’s Conveyancer he felt ONP had become “the latest whipping boy” for the national publication, with their story featuring “a number of inaccuracies”.

Hale said ONP completed 94,000 transactions last year, with the number of negative reviews therefore accounting for only 0.7% of cases, with upheld claims sitting at 0.13% respectively.

Following an increase in transactions over 2021 and 2022, Hale said the firm took “a number of actions” to manage its pipeline and focus on service, namely recruitment and the introduction of its academy, though he conceded this “didn’t help meet the sudden overnight demand from the announcement of the Stamp Duty holiday”.

In any case, Hale said the firm takes its feedback “incredibly seriously” and will do its best to learn from it, adding that they will “hold [their] hands up and admit everything didn’t go as smoothly as we wanted it to last year”:

“There were clearly times when our communication was not good enough. We are therefore looking at every element of our communication to manage people’s expectations of the timescales involved in a property purchase and keep them informed of where their case is at all times.

We are also changing our structure and investing in our most highly qualified people in order to simplify the business and provide partners and clients with more direct access to these people. It will also ensure that partners and clients have a consistent team looking after their cases.

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