Solicitors hit out at Santander's cull of conveyancers
Monday 6th August 2012
Santander has become the latest bank to remove a number of smaller firms from its conveyancing panel.
The Law Society has expressed its serious concerns that several hundred law firms have been culled, despite having been charged £199 by Santander for panel management information.
The cull is based on the number of conveyancing transactions done by a firm specifically in relation to Santander. The level of transactions Santander requires has not been specified.
Lloyds undertook a similar cull of local solicitors two years ago and HSBC, whose residential panel manager is Countrywide, provoked uproar in January when it announced it was cutting its panel to just 43 firms to service its entire UK mortgage customer base.
Since then, HSBC has had to relent somewhat on its position – largely because estate agents warned customers that they might encounter severe delays in conveyancing and risk losing the deal.
But the trend by which banks can dictate which solicitors their mortgage customers can use is clearly a continuing concern.
How much does it matter? For A P Bassets, the only law firm in the town of Lostwithiel, Cornwall, it means it can no longer act for clients wanting to buy a property with a mortgage from any of the main lenders such as Santander, Halifax or Cheltenham & Gloucester.
“The banks are not at all concerned that customers have to pass their own local solicitor and take their business to another firm in another town,” says the firm.
“Like lots of other firms in small towns, we may never have enough transactions to meet the banks’ criteria, but that is the nature of small town business.
“Nevertheless, small as we are, with the number of conveyancing transactions that we have done, it does mean we have been a viable and successful small town business, making a positive contribution to the local economy.”
When a Cornish TV company did a piece on the issue, it made for an articulate item – with no shortage of local people standing up against the might of the big banks and their anti-local agenda.
The video does last about five minutes, but it is well worth watching because of the way it explains a disturbing issue once it hits ground level.
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