Discounted conveyancing services on the Internet in breach of Law Society rules
A leading law firm has hit-out at cut-price conveyancers arguing that many are in breach of the Law Society Code of Conduct. MTA Solicitors in Bromley and Manchester is concerned that consumers are being drawn into too-good-to-be-true offers only to discover them laden with hidden extras.
The UK conveyancing industry has a reputation for providing a slow and expensive service. As such, finding a conveyancing solicitor that offers a reliable, efficient and personal service, all at a reasonable cost, is quite a challenge when buying or selling a property.
The Internet has seen a wave of new entrants to this market with some quoting ‘fixed-fees’ as low as £99. Having been enticed by the initial fee, the online application will pile on the extras, such as; shared ownership fees, mortgage fees and stamp duty fees. The quote could escalate way beyond the initial £99 to anything in excess of £500.
Rule 7 of the Law Society Code of Conduct makes it clear that solicitors and firms representing them who advertise their services must comply with The British Code of Advertising Practice and more importantly that solicitors must be “clear and up front with fees”. Solicitors and their agents have a duty to express fees clearly and when showing them in advertisements. Failure to do so could result in a breach of rules.
David Green, CEO of MTA Solicitors explains, “A successful conveyancing department must offer the client a first class personal service at a competitive price. Attempting to provide the service by utilising non qualified staff with little or no experience and an over reliance on a case management system will lead to problems. When someone is making one of the biggest purchases of their life we believe they are entitled to have one person allocated to their case, to whom they will have direct access to.”
Service and price is a major factor for the consumer during this expensive time but consumers must be aware that obtaining the cheapest possible price does not always buy a good service. The price has to be transparent, whether shopping on the Internet or taking a recommendation from you estate agent.
Only sign up to the service when you have seen in writing what the final fee will be and not before. To dis-instruct a solicitor at a later date when the transaction has started you will become liable for the fees incurred. Making the right enquires up front will save you money in the long run and hopefully secure you the service you deserve.
The Law Society states that where ‘legal fees’ or similar expressions are used, the fees quoted should be the fees to be charge by the solicitor, its should not conceal a commission or referral fee to be paid to a third party. Any such commission or referral fee should be show separately.
“Customers need to be savvy in this competitive market, and make a decision based on quality of service as well as price. Realistically, fees should be around £500 for an average house in order to secure the services of a top quality conveyancer. As services like this can speed up your transaction reduce the chance of a deal falling through and make sure the process is as stress-free as possible it is important that the consumer knows what to expect, how the service will be delivered and by who!” concludes Green.
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About MTA Solicitors:
Established in 2001, MTA Solicitors provides a wide range of legal services including personal injury, conveyancing, employment, debt, corporate law, general and commercial litigation and dispute resolution (including arbitration), IT and e-commerce, banking and finance, trusts, wills and probate, trust litigation and contentious probate.
MTA Solicitors clients' span across many different business sectors in the UK and overseas; including major UK and global insurance companies, domestic and foreign banks, foreign law firms, offshore trustees, transport operators, local authorities, agents and service providers, and individuals.
MTA has offices based in London, Kent and Manchester and employs over 250 lawyers. Please visit: www.mtasolicitors.com for further information.
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