Des Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society, has written to all members expressing concern about the potential danger Lender Exchange poses to firms that do conveyancing.
Lloyds, RBS and Santander recently announced that from early 2014, they would be mandating conveyancers to register panel management applications through the Lender Exchange platform run by Decision First, the CML’s chosen supplier.
Mr Hudson’s letter explains that the Law Society is continuing to challenge the CML and the Decision First process in the strongest terms.
The letter explains that the Law Society has repeatedly offered to provide the data free to lenders but their offer has been refused without any explanation.
As a result of this he says: “A single commercial provider has been given a powerful position and the potential to control the dynamics of the conveyancing market and introduce needless cost to the detriment of consumers.
“We are seriously concerned about the potential damage to the business of law firms who do conveyancing and are seeking Competition advice on this point.”
The letters are available to read here. Mr Hudson lays out his concerns about:
1.the lack of transparency in the assessment process or of any published objective criteria;
2.the selection of a commercial, for profit, organisation to act as a "gatekeeper" to lender panel membership;
3.the lack of adequate consultation with the Law Society;
4.the continuing refusal of Decision First to provide their terms and conditions;
5.the fact that unsuccessful firms will be prohibited from reapplying for a period of time and the lack of information about how this time period is to be determined;
6.the lack of detail on any appeals process which will be a matter for individual lenders;
7.the security of the technical platform and the lack of evidence that it has been subjected to rigorous due diligence to ensure data protection of commercial and confidential data;
8.the potential commercial exploitation of your firm’s data;
9.the basis on which the fee structure has been determined and the resulting "secret profit" for the provider. T
hey stressed that they firms do not need to take any further action until early 2014 and that they will update you as soon as possible on the ongoing discussions.
The Law Society is campaigning actively on your behalf but stress that it would be helpful if more voices were heard.