Hambros deal with licensed conveyancers sparks pledge to liberalise solicitors' rules

A NEW deal between a leading estate agents and licensed conveyancers to provide a seven-day-a-week conveyancing service has prompted a renewed Law Society pledge to move quickly to liberalise solicitors' practising restrictions.

Hambro Countrywide and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers last week entered into an arrangement to offer the service through Hambros' 700 estate agents offices by spring 1997.

Hambros will be spending £100 million to install conveyancing computer systems in the offices.

Richard Hegarty, chair of the Law Society's property and commercial services committee, said there was nothing in the Law Society's rules to prevent solicitors from doing the same thing.

But he described the current regulatory regime for solicitors as “quite ridiculous” and said he was pushing for a major liberalisation of the rules governing solicitors by March or April 1997.

“Solicitors must have a level playing field to compete with licensed conveyancers,” said Hegarty.

Leslie Dubow, executive officer of the Solicitors Property Group, said of the Hambros deal: “It will take the bread out of the mouths of high street conveyancers. The whole network of high street solicitors is in jeopardy.”

Dubow criticised current practice rules which prevented solicitors from offering financial services to potential buyers and from acting for both buyers and sellers.