Lord Woolf gives approval to SPCs

THE MASTER of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, has approved a Law Society request for the rules governing property selling to be deregulated, paving the way for a new national network of property shops.

Under the changes approved by Lord Woolf last week, different solicitors' firms which have banded together to form property shops can now act for the two sides in a conveyancing transaction as well as offering financial advice.

The changes form part of a series of measures approved by the Law Society last month to deregulate the rules governing property shops. More radical measures to allow a single firm to act for both buyer and seller are likely to be put before Lord Woolf later this year.

Lord Woolf's decision to approve the first tranche of rule changes has coincided with the official launch of the Solicitor Property Centres' (SPC) scheme to set up a national network of property centres run by local legal practices operating franchises.

At the launch, the company said that information technology would play a key role in the project, which would see individual property centres enjoying online access to the Land Registry, local councils and the lenders in order to reduce delay.

Anthony Bogan, SPC's director of operations, said 100 firms had already joined the scheme and new firms were joining at a rate of 10 a day.

“We already have enough firms on the Isle of Wight interested in the scheme to set up a property centre there,” he said.