Conveyancing has come back to haunt the legal profession. The healthy growth of the property market, which should have been joyful news for all, comes in a poisoned chalice with the news that not only is estate agent Hambro Countrywide preparing to tackle the marketplace but the building societies are also looking at innovative ideas for conveyancing.
Once again, solicitors in general are left sitting on the sidelines in defensive mode. It is easy to blame the Law Society for lack of leadership on the issue to date. When its conveyancing committee circulated one survey on the subject, the response from the profession was minimal with only 200 or so returning the forms. If the profession shows little interest in leading the way and devising innovative forward-looking solutions, this makes it rather difficult for the Law Society. However, unless solicitors decide to make some positive contribution to the debate, their days as providers of the service are numbered.
The marketplace for the provision of mortgages is fiercely competitive. The current stresses that surround the buying of property dictate that anyone offering easier solutions will get a good hearing from the public. Since it is also estimated that over one third of potential house sales fall through, often due to delay, there is room for improvement.
It is time for solicitors to rethink the conveyancing processes. If there are new solutions or business opportunities to be found, then surely solicitors are as well placed as anyone else to come up with them. If they adopt the ostrich position, then all is lost. If they take a proactive stance, with the best interests of the client at heart and demonstrably so, then they will dictate the way forward. The Halifax's move to simplify the remortgaging marketplace with the use of title insurance is one such initiative to make life easier for the consumer. Here's looking to some others!