Halifax shakes up its panel

Halifax Building Society has reorganised its legal panel to include Shoosmiths & Harrison while dropping Dibb Lupton Alsop from repossession work.

However, Dibbs has picked up the remortgaging portfolio which, it claims, is worth more than the one it has lost.

Midlands firm Shoosmiths and two-partner practice Charles Caplan, based in Mayfair, London, took the repossession deal after tendering.

Andrew Chappell, the national operations partner for Dibbs and managing partner of the firm's Bradford office, admits that the firm has priced itself out of the market.

“We lost out in terms of price, not quality. But, with low interest rates, it is a declining area anyway and as part and parcel of those changes we have picked up remortgaging work which is a bigger fee earner.

“This is a multi-million pound business which we see as growing substantially over the next few years.”

However, it will not produce more positions for lawyers in the firm. While about 80 to 85 people have been taken on to handle the work, they are mostly graduates and LPC students.

Andrew Tubbs, head of Shoosmiths' financial institutions group, says the firm won the tender because of its reputation for carrying out high volume work for financial institutions.

The volume has led them to take on 10 new lawyers as well as an additional 30 support staff.

Shoosmiths will handle cases all over England, although Tubbs says he is unwilling to speculate on how much work the contract will generate.

At the other end of the scale is Charles Caplan, which is taking on the workload between a mere two partners and an assistant.

“We will cope with the volume of work because we have very advanced machinery and a dedicated, if small, staff. So with a reasonable amount of effort we should be able to do it.

“If we can't it is my head on the line,” says Charles Caplan, founding partner of the firm that has just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Caplan continues: “There is a phrase 'the great and the good'. We may not be great, but we certainly think we are good.”