The Law Society of Scotland are all a fluster over the move by Abbey which sacked up to 7000 solicitors across the UK from their approved conveyancing panel of legal firms.
Desperate to protect what little business the legal profession has left, the Law Society has issued the following Press Release, which their in-house magazine “JournalOnline” reports as “Society in showdown at the Abbey” (I can hear the banks quaking in their boots at the O.K. Corral right now – Ed)
Abbey is to contact 7,000 UK conveyancing solicitors with information on how they can be reinstated to its approved panels if they can make a case for ongoing business with the bank.
It follows strong protest from the Law Society of Scotland and The Law Society of England and Wales against an Abbey decision to strike the 7,000 solicitors from across the UK from its approved panels without any prior consultation or warning for firms.
The move appears to have particularly impacted on smaller firms, and the Society has expressed concern about the numbers of Scottish solicitors affected as many, especially those practising in rural areas, operate in small partnerships or as sole practitioners.
In an attempt to rationalise the combined Abbey/ Alliance & Leicester panel, the bank had recently written to the 7,000 solicitors to inform them that they had been removed because they had handled a low number of Abbey lending transactions during the past year. Panel members are instructed by Abbey to put mortgages in place, generally the firm already acting for the purchaser.
Janette Wilson, convenor of the Law Society of Scotland conveyancing committee, said: “Firms removed from the panel could be facing a significant loss of business and we believe that this move reduces consumer choice and may be anti-competitive. This is also highly likely to impact on clients as the solicitor’s fee for putting the mortgage in place is normally included in the fee for the purchase. If additional solicitors have to be instructed, buyers will be charged another fee.
“We remain very concerned about this and will be writing to Abbey to express our strong concerns. We are also planning to join LSEW at a meeting with the bank and are urging our members to contact the Society if they have been removed from Abbey National’s panel as well as contacting the bank directly.
“We want to ascertain the impact of this on Scottish conveyancers who have already been hard hit by the serious downturn in the property market.
Solicitors with any queries should contact John Scott in professional practice. firstname.lastname@example.org
ENDS 27 APRIL 2009