Last Friday, the Law Society of Scotland AGM voted in favour of introducing mandatory separate representation for borrower and lender. Here Rob Hailstone, founder of the Bold Group, gives us his views on the decision and what he thinks should happen next.
“Is it any wonder that solicitors are trying to protect their interests when over the last 20 years or so, conveyancing lawyers in Scotland, England and Wales have been backed into a corner:
– They are being taken off lender panels, without notice or explanation and with very limited rights of appeal.
– They are being given more and more onerous conditions to comply with, with little or no extra reward and sometimes with even less reward.
– They have a new regulatory environment that makes conflict of interest more and more difficult to identify and comply with.
– They are being held legally responsible for issues that should not sometimes be laid at their feet.
“In light of these recent developments it is time for the Government to put together a steering committee to look at discussing this issue to ensure that consumer interests in England and Wales are best protected. Buying a home is an emotive time and the public do not need more confusion or cost being added to an already stressful process.
“With lender panel reduction taking place daily, a home buyer walking into his local conveyancers office could be told that his family conveyancer/solicitor can no longer act for him and his lender, and that he has to choose whether to instruct a conveyancer he doesn’t know or incur additional cost, delay and stress by remaining loyal to his preferred conveyancer. If he decides to stay loyal to his conveyancer that extra cost would run to hundreds of pounds and the delays to weeks or even months.
“It is not just the small firms who are being removed from lender panels. Some large firms with every accreditation certificate available (including the new Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme) are also suffering the same fate. “Before separate representation is introduced to England and Wales the Government committee should firstly look into the causes for the confusion that currently exist and secondly decide what is right, fair and correct for all parties to move forward, solicitors, lenders and last but not least the home buying and selling public.
“The Bold Group and its members will assist any committee and would like to find a solution that is best for their clients and the public generally. However one thing is certain, the current situation is so random and haphazard it should not be allowed to continue. The public deserve clarity and certainty when buying or selling their homes.”