CQS – not everyone inside the Conveyancing fraternity thinks it’s a good thing
Inside Conveyancing firms across the country, many Solicitors are still weighing up whether or not to apply for membership of the Law Society’s Conveyancing quality scheme. At present just over half have joined, but it looks as if many of those who haven’t yet applied don’t intend doing so.
Does this mean that CQS is not as successful as was hoped? Some Solicitors inside Conveyancing firms no doubt feel that the joining the scheme will not produce any worthwhile advantages. Sole practitioners in particular are unlikely to benefit, even if they were able to meet the membership criteria.
CQS is advertised as providing “a recognised quality standard for residential Conveyancing practices” which aims to “establish a level of credibility for member firms with stakeholders (regulators, lenders, insurers and consumers). ”
Just jargon-speak and a fancy logo
But no doubt many Conveyancing Solicitors will view this as so much institutional jargon-speak. They have been providing their clients with excellent and cost-effective services for years – why should they now go to all the time, trouble and expense of making an application?
We seem to have so many of these schemes nowadays, and Solicitors’ letterheads are cluttered up with fancy logos. But are potential clients really persuaded to use one firm rather than another just because of this? Certainly inside Conveyancing firms, and the sector as a whole, I think that cost is the deciding factor for most. Clients will assume that they should get a professional service from whichever firm they go to – and so they should.
Isn’t the SRA doing its job?
One of the threats to many firms has been removal from mortgage lenders’ panels. To be removed from the panel of a major lender can lead to a significant loss of business for some firms, especially those who specialise in residential Conveyancing. Among the reasons for the introduction of the scheme was the apparently high level of mortgage fraud, and it is now suggested that lenders will not be prepared to instruct firms which are not members of the scheme.
Yet we already have the SRA which exists to provide independent regulation of the profession. So haven’t they being doing their job? Surely lenders should have been able to rely on them to check that those inside Conveyancing firms were doing their job properly?
Tick the right boxes and everything’s OK
One of the criticisms of CQS is that it creates a ‘box-ticking’ culture, rather than rewarding professional expertise. Tick the boxes to show you have blindly followed the protocol and you can’t go wrong. Perhaps this is unfair criticism, but junior staff inside Conveyancing firms can often fall into this trap.
So although the scheme has its merits, it should not be seen as the only means of guaranteeing the future for Conveyancing Solicitors.