Estate agency Hambro Countryside Conveyancing, has bought two offices of leasehold conveyancing law firm EDC Lord for £1.6m.
Hambro business development manager Richard Sawtell says Hambro aims to achieve more than 30,000 completions and at least a five-figure number of leasehold instructions this year.
Already the UK's biggest freehold conveyancer, with 22,000 instructions last year, Hambro's purchase represents another blow for conveyancing lawyers. It set up its telephone-based, seven-days-a- week conveyancing service in March 1997.
Before the acquisition - involving around 65-lawyer and non-lawyer employees - Hambro had a close relationship with volume conveyancers at law firms EDC Lord, Eversheds and Shoosmiths & Harrison. Hambro says its links with the other two firms will continue.
Solicitors Property Centres director, Tony Bogan says: "This is another turn of the screw for conveyancing lawyers," he says. "If you add the threat posed by Hambro to what others are likely to do, solicitors have a big problem."
He adds: "If only they would wake up and realise the danger isn't light years away - it's happening now."