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Bold Legal Group CEO demands investigation into Law Society’s management of Veyo

Jonathan Smithers asked to explain why project was allowed to 'limp along' when the 'writing was on the wall'

17 December 2015

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The Law Society must apologise and explain the circumstances behind the high-profile failure of Veyo, its pet electronic conveyancing project, according to a former conveyancer.

Earlier this month the society announced it would no longer be in its members' interests to invest additional resources in the controversial conveyancing system.

The joint venture between the Law Society and Mastek saw 1,880 law firms 'express an interest' in the project, with some 80 signing up to work on the first development phase of the portal.

However, Veyo has been beset with complications and delays over recent months.

A review undertaken by Legal Practice Technologies, created to deliver the conveyancing system to the profession, found the market for Veyo had 'changed radically' since its inception.

As a result, the Law Society announced with 'considerable regret' that it would not be making any further investment in Veyo.

Now, in an open letter to the Law Society's president and chief executive, Rob Hailstone, the head of national law firm network Bold Legal Group, has demanded answers for Veyo's demise.

'To place the failure of Veyo on the "changing shape of the market" and "free products coming to the market" is both incredulous and insulting,' said Hailstone.

'Having spent more than two years talking about and developing Veyo to throw the towel in using such weak excuses, is surely hiding the truth about its mismanagement?'

The ex-property conveyancer added that the Law Society must be held to account and provide clarity on just what went wrong with the ill-fated project.

'Up until only a month or so before Veyo's demise, Jonathan Smithers, the Law Society president, was still implying publicly that Veyo would dominate its competitors,' said Hailstone.

'This situation led some to believe that Mr Smithers either had no idea what was going on behind the scenes at LPT or preferred to put a positive spin on a rapidly declining situation.'

Bold Legal Group have questioned just why did the society's present and past leadership allow the project to limp along, 'when the writing was clearly on the wall'.

Among the other questions raised by practitioners are: why was the project ever commenced; how much money has been lost on the project since its inception; who, if anyone, will be resigning; and will a thorough investigation into Veyo's failure be carried out?

'I am sure that many solicitors and conveyancers sincerely hope that the right thing will be done and that the above questions will be answered, honestly, swiftly and comprehensively,' concluded Hailstone.

Responding to the letter, the president of the Law Society said that closing the Veyo project was a difficult decision.

'We are sorry for the disappointment caused to conveyancers who were waiting for Veyo to be launched,' said Smithers.

'We will learn lessons from this project and will ensure that changes are made and that  the same mistakes are not repeated.

'Those who were responsible for running LPT which was an independent company from the Law Society, are no longer involved with the Law Society.' 

Read Hailstone's open letter in full here.

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal | @JvdLD

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Business development & Strategy Conveyancing