Group fights Law Soc 'apathy'

HIGH Street firms fed up with the Law Society's “complacent and defeatist” attitude on conveyancing are forming their own pressure group.

The new forum is being set up as the society's council this week begins the debate on the controversial consultation paper 'Adapting for the future'.

The Solicitors' Property Group (SPG), a loose network of firms, is behind the new initiative. It wants to take a more pro-active role in representing solicitors involved in conveyancing and other non-contentious work.

Chief executive Leslie Dubow says: “It was very clear, both from the group's conference and its recent council meeting, that solicitors were far from happy with what Chancery Lane had done, or rather failed to do for the high street practitioner.”

But Andrew Lockley, the society's director of legal practice, insists there is no complacency or defeatism, however it might appear.

“In particular, we are working hard on a new set of conveyancing proposals as a result of the consultation exercise.

“The society welcomes representations from any group within the profession and has always worked closely with the SPG. We would not expect to do anything different as a result of their action.”

Preliminary discussions on the future of conveyancing will take place in the closed session of this week's council meeting. It is unlikely that the society will push ahead with the reforms recommended in 'Adapting for the future' following widespread opposition in the ranks.

Past president Tony Holland, of Plymouth firm Foot & Bowden, speaking in a personal capacity, believes that some kind of compromise is on the cards. He says the society should move forward with a restricted form of joint representation to cut down the risk of conflict of interest.

* True Word, a national solicitors' network, begins its campaign to court mortgage lenders this month. Marketing is being carried out for the inner core of about 50 practices, known as the Trinity Group.