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HSBC Conveyancing Panel

May 16, 2012
Hundreds more firms will be able to work for HSBC mortgage clients and the bank after the lender agreed this week to expand its conveyancing panel to include all firms with the Law Societys Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) mark. This will include Warcup Law Firm who qualified for the scheme in Feburary. The deal, announced today, follows a four-month campaign by the Law Society against the banks announcement of a panel of just 39 solicitor firms and four licensed conveyancing companies.

To date, 1,419 firms across England and Wales have CQS and the Law Society is dealing with a further 401 applications.

HSBC, which has around 10% of the new-sales mortgage market, said it set up the panel to protect itself and its customers. Only firms on the panel, managed by property services firm Countrywide, were able to act for both the borrower and the lender, with all other firms restricted to acting for the borrower only.

The Law Society and others raised concerns that the small number of firms restricted client choice and delayed the conveyancing process for clients with HSBC mortgages.

Under the new arrangement, to come into effect in August, all CQS firms will be able to act for HSBC and the borrower. Sole practitioners, however, will be restricted to transactions with mortgage values up to £150,000. The Law Society and the bank said they would work together to raise the sole practitioner limit.

In a statement, the Society said: Recognising the merit in some of the different requirements HSBC currently has for its panel, the Law Society has invited HSBC to assist it in further developing the CQS assessment scheme so that it becomes the automatic requirement for a firm to join a mortgage lenders conveyancing panel.'

The Society said that HSBC has suggested it consider inviting other mortgage lenders to assist it in this respect, a proposal the Society said it is 'delighted to accept'.

HSBC's head of lending Martijn van der Heijden said: 'We listened to feedback from customers and solicitors, and through working with the Law Society can now agree to more solicitors acting for us while also managing our risks and maintaining the unique benefits of using one of our panel solicitors.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: 'With this move HSBC is demonstrating its commitment to putting customers first, as well as its confidence in the CQS scheme. The bank has been constructive in working with the Law Society, in designing this solution. As well as giving its customers a much wider choice of solicitor that can also act for HSBC, it has aligned itself further with the CQS and the high standards the scheme represents.

'HSBCs willingness to engage with us has helped secure a good outcome for their mortgage customers, our CQS members and the house-buying public.'
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