The road to client choice

I agree entirely with John Edge (Letters, 25 March) that the profession must recognise "that it is standing at a cross-roads as far as conveyancing is concerned" and that "if the wrong road is chosen, it will prove an unmitigated disaster for high street practitioners".

However, I do not think his proposal goes far enough and do not agree that most solicitors want to undertake estate agency personally or agree to steps which increase their incomes "from estate agency fees".

But there is still a way out. Were the profession to adopt, via local law societies, the Scots model of solicitors property centres, it would be in a stronger position to meet the challenge of Hambros and others.

Hambros claims that, within a year, it will have covered the country with its property centres, that are designed, not to reduce cost to the consumer, but to offer a one-stop conveyancing service, including estate agency, with gimmicks such as "a seven days a week" service dealing with everything "by telephone and post" and opening from 9am to 8pm.

By contrast, the Scots solicitors in Glasgow, according to Leslie Dubow of the Solicitors Property Group, run property centres (employing lay staff) and charge the client of the solicitor for registering the property and advertising it for six months, for a mere £150. If the client wants more, he pays for it.

Such co-operative measures between solicitors can be repeated in England and Wales through local law societies, beating off the challenge of Hambros and allowing the solicitor to charge a proper fee for conveyancing and avoid the present cut-throat competition.

If you agree, please contact me at the address below to sign a requisition for a special general meeting of the Law Society.

Stanley Best

Glebe Cottage,


Winkleigh, Devon