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600 firms apply to join Law Society's conveyancing scheme

8 March 2011

Almost 600 law firms have applied to join the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). A spokesman for the society said that, by this morning, 582 firms had applied to join the scheme with 13 successfully accredited.

He said the surge in applications since the CQS opened in January had led Chancery Lane to increase the number of staff working on the project from seven to 12.

Paul Marsh, member of the CQS project board, said the problem for the society was not selling the scheme but managing it.

“It’s easier for small firms to fill in the forms and get the accreditation,” he said. “The bigger the department, the more difficult it is to get the information.

“I’ve always said that in these difficult times, small firms, because they can act faster, have every reason to be more confident.”

Marsh said lenders and insurers had been involved in developing CQS.

“Lenders have always made it very clear that they want the right to determine who is on their panels, but they will ask for this and be very surprised if firms haven’t got it.”

Marsh said CQS would also help firms obtain reasonable indemnity insurance.

“Survival over the next five years is not compulsory,” he said. “Joining the scheme is purely your decision.”

Marsh added that, given the benefits in terms of potential panel membership, indemnity insurance and marketing to consumers, he believed the scheme was “fantastic value”.

There is a sliding scale of CQS application fees, from £150 for a sole practice to £550 for a firm with more than 20 partners.

Eddie Goldsmith, chairman of the Conveyancing Association, said he understood that CQS might become a prerequisite for being a member of lenders’ panels.

“I don’t think it will guarantee staying on a panel – that is for the lenders to decide,” Goldsmith said.

“Insurers will go on claims records rather than any quality scheme. If it can be shown that by being in the scheme your claims will be less, then there will be some mileage with insurers.”

Goldsmith said the association supported CQS and his firm, Goldsmith Williams, had applied.

“As the panels may use this as an entry-level requirement, the Conveyancing Association will also consider this,” he said.

“I don’t think any firm would jump through all the hoops unless they were serious about conveyancing.”

Goldsmith added that the CQS scheme did not extend to licensed conveyancers but if CQS became the “industry standard” they might have to think about something similar.

Categorised in:

Clinical negligence Conveyancing