Lawyers clash with Mears on scale fees

TWO high-profile conveyancing lawyers have hit out at a campaign to reintroduce scale fees claiming it may prove deeply damaging for the profession.

The Law Society's former property and commercial services committee chair Paul Marsh and Brian Marson, senior partner of the Essex firm Marsons, have accused the leadership of embarking on a wild goose chase.

Society president Martin Mears and his vice-president Robert Sayer have embraced the massive campaign to halt cut price conveyancing fees spearheaded by Bournemouth solicitor John Edge.

They have already instructed officials to look into the possibility of withdrawing professional indemnity cover from firms which opt to undercut guideline fees.

Edge, who so far claims the support of 7,500 solicitors up and down the country, welcomed the response of Mears and Sayer to his campaign claiming they could “save the solicitor's profession”.

But Marsh, who was committee chair until he was voted off the council this summer, attacked the plans.

He urged firms to face up to the fact that there were too many conveyancing lawyers, and they had to diversify into other areas of the law while investing in new technology.

“More than anything the policy will deflect those firms that are in difficulties from facing up to the real issues – and the long-term result could be deva-stating,” he said.

Marson said it was unrealistic to expect the public to pay inflated conveyancing fees and the Law Society should instead concentrate on stopping firms who broke rules to cut corners.