The Law Society has refused to support a plan by Conquest Legal Marketing

The Law Society has refused to support a plan by Conquest Legal Marketing to establish 150 solicitors property centres within two years.

Last week, the legal marketing company announced a joint venture with the US title insurance company Stewart Title to set up a chain of property centres.

But in a private session, the Law Society's property and commercial services committee decided to reject an approach by the group for its official backing, because shares in the company being set up to run its proposed network of centres – Solicitors Property Centres Ltd – are to be offered to non-solicitors.

Instead the committee will back the Solicitors Property Group's rival plans to set up its own property centre network. It is set to endorse the SPG's draft prospectus for the centres.

Although the SPG is planning to hold negotiations with US title insurance company First American, its members are adamant that there will be no non-solicitor share holding in its centres.

Conquest chair Richard Berenson said his scheme had not been dependent on Law Society support and added that he had drafted strategic alternatives to allow his company to proceed with its plans.

He said half the people he was talking to about his scheme were estate agents and he was not disappointed by the committee's decision.

See page two.