The UK’s Lenders via the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has responded to the Law Society’s consultation paper “Improving Residential Conveyancing”. The Law Society has requested views on the future of residential conveyancing. Measures discussed in our consultation include an electronic conveyancing portal, a membership scheme, and moving away from the principle of caveat emptor. The CML is the representative trade body for one hundred and thirty plus lenders. Conveyancing firms have to carry out conveyancing in accordance with CML requirements set out in the CML Lenders Handbook.
As Conveyancing solicitors have to follow CML requirements the CML has a vested interest in the future of conveyancing. Mortgage lenders rely on licensed conveyancers and property solicitors ( the latter of whom are regulated by the Law Society ) to represent their interest both at the outset of a mortgage transaction (either linked with a purchase or as a re-mortgage), on redemption of loans. Conveyancing lawyers also represent CML members on following repossession by a lender ( although most lenders have a small panel of property solicitors for this specific category of conveyancing) .
The CML early on in their response states that their members who are clients of conveyancing services lenders have experienced difficulties with some property solicitor firms. They do emphasise that this is the minority of property solicitor firms and that many firms provide a high quality Conveyancing to lenders. They do point, however the profession’s reputation is tainted by instances of fraud, negligence or poor quality Conveyancing service which, whilst in the minority, lead to a reduction in faith in the conveyancing profession.
The CML indicates in its response that it believes that any steps to improve residential conveyancing have to be backed up with firm and effective regulatory enforcement by the Law Society.
Members of the CML, as clients of Conveyancing services, announce that they would support any accreditation scheme for Conveyancing that assisted in selection of quality legal representation. Fridaysmove has recently also recommended such an Idea to the Legal Services Board in response there consultation paper. Such a scheme would need to be properly administered and policed so that Conveyancing clients, whether home sellers or buyers or lenders could have confidence in the scheme.
The CML would be opposed to any form of compulsory scheme – be in for accreditation or use of standard form documents or protocols. Fridaysmove would prefer for Conveyancing protocols to be made compulsory for protocols as we believe that this would bring greater clarity and speed to Conveyancing transactions.
The CML do not agree with a move away from the caveat emptor principle or for the role of property solicitors to become more analogous to that of a notary ( as is the case in Europe ) .