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Yorkshire and Clydesdale panel plans increase borrower confusion

The Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks have recently announced that as from the middle of April 2012, all new applicants for their Conveyancing Solicitor panels must have CQS (Conveyancing Quality Scheme) accreditation.

Although good news for Solicitors with CQS status, the announcements effectively preclude new applications from Licensed Conveyancers  as they are not regulated by the Law Soiety and cannot therefore be awarded CQS status. Existing panel members will not be affected by the announcements.

The move would certainly seem unfairly punitive for Licensed Conveyancers who make up approximately 200 firms across England and Wales.  The  CLC (Council for Licensed Conveyancers) have yet to issue a statement.

The decisions seem particularly ironic in light of recent HSBC Mortgage panel culls which saw the unprecedented contraction of its’ panel to just 43 members who are now managed by Countrywide Conveyancing Services, a CLC regulated company.

Particularly Confusing time for Consumers

Commentary surrounding Mortgage Lenders and their Legal panels has historically been of little interest to consumers and borrowers.

However, the subject has found its way into the realm of consumer interest as the HSBC’s move has triggered a furious backlash from Solicitors, borrowers and consumer groups agents alike.  Recent coverage in the Guardian suggest that even estate agents are getting twitchy about the lender.

The HSBC states that it has cut the panel to address concerns over fraud and to that end CQS accreditation is a pre-requisite for membership.  Yet the panel is being managed by Countrywide Conveyancing Services who are not CQS accredited and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Confused yet?  Well at least the Law Society are heralding the announcements as a vindication of the scheme.  

Yet the Law Society, who have strongly criticised the HSBC’s moves, have defended the recent Clydesdale and Yorkshire plans saying “Lenders make their own decisions about their panels”.  

Wasting no time in extolling the virtues of its Conveyancing ‘Finest’ range the Desmond Hudson of the Law Society adds  “Not only is it an assurance of high standards in conveyancing for lenders but, by showing its commitment to CQS, they are also putting customers’ interests first by maintaining a wide panel of trusted firms. ”

What should you do if you are contemplating a Yorkshire Bank or Clydesdale Bank mortgage?

The simple answer is to make sure that your chosen Solicitor is CQS accredited and on the respective lender’s panel before instructing them.  Failure to carry out this simple check could result in delays to the conveyancing process.

There is no doubt that firms achieving CQS accreditation have been through rigorous assessment and are subjected to an enhanced level of scrutiny from the Law Society thereafter.

Fridaymove manage a panel of CQS accredited Solicitors and you will always be assigned a solicitor that can act for you and the Clydesdale or Yorkshire banks.

The Law Society has awarded CQS accreditation to over 1300 firms in England & Wales to date.

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