Law Society’s new home buying quality mark has CML support

More than 700 firms have so far applied to join the UK’s Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) which has now received the backing of the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

The Society is to start a consumer advertising and PR campaign in support of CQS at the end of April, after which the profession should expect to be asked by lender and consumer clients whether their firms are accredited under the CQS.

The CML hopes that the CQS will create a trusted conveyancing community that will deter fraud, recognise high quality services for home buyers and lenders, and deliver a robust assessment and monitoring procedure for the solicitors' firms that are admitted.

The lender body supports a CQS that represents a credible means of driving up standards among conveyancers, and improving lender and consumer confidence.

Once the CQS achieves the Law Society's goal of providing a confidence boost for the lender market, the CML expects the CQS to become a prerequisite for membership of lenders' conveyancing panels.

‘The CML has been working closely with the Law Society as it develops the CQS to ensure conveyancing standards are improved for consumers and lenders alike. We are encouraged by the initial interest from solicitor firms who have already applied to the scheme,’ said Michael Coogan, director general of CML.

‘We urge conveyancing firms to join the scheme, and to do so quickly so that their business is not adversely affected. Any conveyancing firm which wants to continue to act on behalf of lenders should expect the CQS to become an important new criterion for panel management, and expect to be asked by their clients whether their firm has been accredited,’ he added.

Firms wishing to achieve CQS accreditation are required to comply with a number of enhanced standards covering the competence and probity of staff, the financial standing of the firm and the existence of appropriate supervision, safeguards and processes. A key part of the scheme that the Law Society will undertake is extensive identity and other checks on all relevant members of staff employed by member firms.

In addition to the self monitoring and quality assurance required of member firms, the Law Society monitors accredited firms to ensure standards are maintained, carrying out a random monitoring and assessment visits.

‘In our ongoing talks on the wider issue of membership of mortgage lender panels with the CML and major lenders, it is clear that there is support for the CQS. Not only will it help deter fraud, it also drives up practice management standards and provides a beacon of quality for home buyers,’ said Law Society president Linda Lee.