Sayer: "Hogwash claims unfair'

Last week's "Quote of the Week" criticised a letter sent to most small firms urging them to charge realistic fees. "Patronising hogwash," was the response of the solicitor quoted. That stung. The critic had received a devastating SIF demand and was rightly outraged, but his reaction was unfair.

For four years a handful of us have warned of the disaster building up as a result of low conveyancing fees and an avalanche of claims from lenders clawing back money lost in the recession through reckless lending. We have tried persuading the Law Society to back scale fees, guideline fees, hypothecated insurance, anything to help firms get out of the trap of cut-price work but, so far, we have failed. Mainly because SIF refused to accept that any conveyancing crisis was brewing.

We have argued that SIF's management be replaced, for outside experts to be brought in, for second opinions to be obtained on risk banding and the shortfall. We were ignored. But we haven't given up.

Change needs persistence. It is a slow process. One part of the process is to get solicitors to stand up for themselves, have the courage to value their services and charge accordingly. It's the same message I've preached in countless articles and letters and I make no apology for continuing.

Robert Sayer, vice-president of the Law Society