Row flares over retainer guidelines

LAW SOCIETY chiefs have fallen out with mortgage lenders over proposed new guidelines aimed at upgrading the legal services on home loans.

The society's council was told last week that moves to agree a joint “retainer” with the lenders had failed after continuous disagreement over the details.

Keith Byass, of the society's property and commercial services committee, warned it may have to produce a document without the backing of banks and building societies.

He told the council: “We will try once more to agree a joint retainer and handbook with the lenders, but if that fails then we will be ready in the autumn with our own standard retainer.”

The working party that is currently examining the issue decided last week to begin finalising the retainer so that it can be put before the council in the autumn.

Plans for a retainer emerged last December when the Law Society abandoned proposals for separate representation of property vendor and buyer.

The society set up the working party, which produced a draft document outlining the duties of solicitors to lenders. However, it became apparent that lenders were working on their own handbook.

Byass says that a series of meetings were held but both sides disagreed on issues such as administration costs and fees for lawyers.

The Building Societies Association said last May that the retainer proposals were an attempt to bring in separate representation by the “back door”.