Licensed Conveyancers react to HSBC panel changes

Licensed Conveyancers react to HSBC panel changes

Following the announcement yesterday by HSBC that from August all members of the Law Society CQS scheme will be allowed onto its lenders panel, bodies representing Licensed Conveyancers have called for panel recognition.
HSBC and the Law Society jointly announced the changes to the panel arrangements which had been in place since January.  Under these arrangements there was a very limited panel of 43 firms.  
The Council of Licensed Conveyancers is keen that its licensees are offered the same opportunity as CQS firms.  June Mulroy, Chief Executive of the CLC said “regulation by the CLC is a trusted badge of quality.  The low levels of mortgage fraud among our licensed holders are unrivalled elsewhere in the industry and our regulation is recognised as being tough, fair and proportionate.”
June Mulroy added that “there are already a number of CLC regulated firms on the HSBC panel, and by including them, HSBC has recognised the strength of our regulation and now is the time to extend that recognition to all CLC regulated firms.”
Currently four CLC regulated firms are on the HSBC panel.  
The view of the CLC is that as the HSBC moves away from its focus on a small panel of lenders, opening up to panel to 1400 CQS member firms, the argument for restricting membership has been weakened.  They argue that as four CLC firms were included on the original panel, this recognised that the strength of CLC regulation is such that no further quality assurance is needed from licence holders.  
June Mulroy commented:
“As a regulator, we are here to assist with promoting competition in the industry and to protect consumer choice.  Any move which appears to be at the detriment of either of those things should be challenged.  
“We will be taking appropriate steps to ensure that our licence holders are allowed to compete on a fair basis with others in the industry.”
The Society of Licensed Conveyancers has also commented on the decision by HSBC.
John Clay, Chairman of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers said:
“The HSBC’s decision to open up its panel to all CQS members demonstrates that the lender has clearly listened to the legal profession and is prepared to make changes to ensure a fairer and more positive experience for both consumer and conveyancer.
“However, this latest decision to allow CQS members to act on a joint representation basis does not open up the panel to Licensed Conveyancers, who are not members of the Law Society and in effect, do not qualify for membership of its CQS scheme.”
John Clay added that “At the SLC we have been working closely with both lenders and the conveyancing profession to develop our own lender panel proposition — SLC Quality Assured.”  This is aimed at giving Licensed Conveyancers access to all lenders’ panels.  It is planned that this will be launched within the next few months.  
John Clay commented:
“In light of the HSBC’s decision to recognise CQS members, we very much hope that it will give the Licensed Conveyancing community the same opportunity and we look forward to presenting the new SLC Quality Assured solution to the HSBC in the coming weeks.”
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