In reaction to the HSBC’s restriction of its Conveyancing panel, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) has launched a consultation process to assess industry support for its proposed SLC Quality Assured scheme.
The SLC plan is an alternative to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), which is currently a requirement for Solicitors' firms on the HSBC Conveyancing panel.
The SLC’s proposal has been precipitated by the HSBC's recent decision to restrict its panel of approved Conveyancers to just 39 CQS-accredited firms of Solicitors. 4 firms of Conveyancers are also members of the HSBC panel, and are currently ineligible for CQS status.
HSBC’s justification for the move (which the Law Society Gazette has described as being potentially “damaging to consumers”) was that it allowed them to more effectively regulate against mortgage fraud.
Consumers and Conveyancers anxious about impact of HSBC reform
Concerns have been rising within the Conveyancing sector that the move will create a situation whereby mortgage lenders are able to regulate the industry through the back door, bypassing industry bodies.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP), a consumer protection body, reported that actions such as the HSBC ‘tie-up’ compromised the power of quality marks such as the CQS to deliver consumer benefits.
The LSCP said “Membership of schemes should not become mandatory to access part of the market as this could usurp the role of regulators. ”
Quality assured mark “delivers compelling solution”, says SLC Chair
The SLC Quality Assured proposal seeks to defuse the HSBC argument that the industry does not provide adequate self-regulation.
SLC Quality Assured firms would be required to register every new transaction with the Society. The lender would receive a progress update from the SLC at critical points throughout the process. The regulatory body would also be updated with the information.
John Clay, chairman of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, said:
“We believe that SLC Quality Assured will deliver a compelling solution for lenders, which will allow them to work with licensed conveyancers, while enjoying complete peace of mind. ”
The professional body has invited Licensed Conveyancers to be involved in the process. A series of consultative meetings will be held across the country in March, prior to the launch of the program later this year.