The Conveyancing Association launches six ‘Pledges’ dedicated to improving the house-buying process for ‘frustrated’ consumers. The pledges mark first ever industry-led commitment to consumers by conveyancers
The Conveyancing Association (CA) have announced the launch of the conveyancing ‘Pledges’, the conveyancing industry’s first ever set of customer service commitments going above and beyond existing regulations and accreditation schemes, which all CA members have agreed to uphold, and of which FDR Law are one.
The CA has developed the Pledges to ensure that its members provide their customers with the transparent, efficient and professional service that home-buyers expect when making one of the biggest decisions of their lives. The commitment made by all CA members to uphold them marks a significant milestone in the history of the housing market. It is the first time licensed conveyancers as well as solicitors have joined together to create and uphold a formal industry-led commitment to improving the house-buying process.
Eddie Goldsmith, CA Chairman, says: “These Pledges go above and beyond the requirements of our members’ regulators and industry accreditation schemes such as the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Importantly, they also bring licensed conveyancers who can’t use CQS into the fold, thereby bringing the whole industry of specialist conveyancers together in a groundbreaking initiative. What the Conveyancing Association adds is a culture of fairness that sets the tone for the service our members provide, whether they are dealing with a large mortgage lender, a family buying their first flat together, or a conveyancer elsewhere on the chain. Considerable consumer frustration during the house buying process often comes from lack of communication from conveyancers. Consumers often feel uninformed and, due to legal jargon, unclear on the legal process. These Pledges will ensure conveyancers communicate regularly and clearly with their clients.
“At the same time, the Pledges will assure lenders that transactions are promptly registered at the Land Registry with a good and marketable title, and that members will take pro-active steps to protect mortgage funds and combat mortgage and property fraud.”
The launch of the Conveyancing Pledges comes as a survey by One Poll, commissioned by the CA, finds that ninety percent of respondents said they were frustrated with the house-buying process, citing issues of excess bureaucracy, lack of information, delays and costs as their biggest bugbears. Almost two-thirds (64%) of house-buyers experienced problems such as delays during their transaction. Of these, conveyancers were blamed for 47% of problems, with estate agents responsible for 18%, and mortgage lenders for 16%.
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Conveyancing Association Pledges - “A culture of fairness”
The Conveyancing Association’s Member Firms are committed to ensuring that all their clients, whether institutions or individuals, are treated fairly and that this culture of fairness extends to all their dealings with third parties. As such, Member Firms, whether they are regulated by the SRA or the CLC, are not only adhering to their own regulatory requirements but have taken on board the objectives enshrined in the FSA Treating Customers Fairly Principles and have applied those to legal practice. In committing to this, Members recognise that fair treatment of our clients, our clients’ customers and third parties is about adding value to the service we offer by aiming to: Protect the interests of our clients at each stage of the service provided, from instruction right through to completion of the matter, and beyond completion through to finalising registration formalities; Meet as best we can the unique needs of each client by offering a transparent, efficient and professional service, and constantly reviewing our service to identify areas for improvement.
- Quality of service - Members will provide a first rate conveyancing service to all clients, regardless of the value of the instructions
- Client satisfactionMembers will ensure that its clients are satisfied with their service by requesting and acting on client feedback
- Efficient processes - Members will work to cut out delays in the conveyancing process and take steps to ensure that transactions run as smoothly as possible
- Title and registrationMembers will ensure that property is acquired with a good and marketable title and promptly registered at the Land Registry
- Combating fraud - Members will take pro-active steps to protect mortgage funds and combat mortgage and property fraud
- Mutual support and trusted community - Members will work towards a trusted community of conveyancers through mutual support and information sharing between members
How will members do this? Members will strive to achieve these pledges, both in spirit and in letter, through the following steps, where applicable to a particular transaction:
1. Quality of service - Members will provide a first rate conveyancing service to all clients, regardless of the value of the instructions. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Employing competent staff who are properly supervised; Training staff in “soft” skills as well as technical conveyancing skills;
- Utilising case management systems;
- Keep clients regularly informed of progress;
- Using plain language in correspondence and dealings with clients;
- Being clear about the likely costs, offering a fixed-fee policy in standard transactions with no hidden charges
- Providing clear cost and disbursement information in non-standard transactions
- Agreeing the client’s expectations at the outset and regularly reviewing these expectations with the client.
2. Client satisfaction - Members will ensure that its clients are satisfied with their service by requesting and acting upon client feedback. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Measuring client satisfaction;
- Reviewing client satisfaction, at least quarterly, developing and
- implementing strategies to improve service standards;
Ensuring that all staff members are informed of these strategies and provided with adequate training to assist in the implementation;
- Working with clients who are not satisfied to seek to rectify their concerns.
3. Efficient processesMembers will work to cut out delays in the conveyancing process and take steps to ensure that transactions run as smoothly as possible. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Communicating with all parties by electronic means, where possible;
- Raising enquiries as soon as possible after contract pack is received and,
- where possible, within three working days;
- Not raising unnecessary enquiries;
- Making a welcome call to clients as soon as possible after instructions and, wherever possible, within one working day; Requesting all searches electronically, where possible; Effectively using and developing case management systems to improve efficiency and reduce delays
4. Title and registrationMembers will ensure that property is acquired with a good and marketable title and promptly registered at the Land Registry. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Promptly submitting applications to the Land Registry within priority
- Effectively dealing with and seeking to minimise any requisitions, rejections or cancellations from the Land Registry;
- Giving post completion work the same priority as pre completion work;
- Keeping clients and lenders informed where registration is delayed and working with all parties to promptly rectify registration issues.
5. Combating fraud - Members will take pro-active steps to protect mortgage funds and combat mortgage and property fraud. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Verifying the seller’s conveyancer;
- Properly verifying their clients and the source of client funds;
- Verifying all new staff members;
- Co-operating and, where necessary, actively participating in anti-fraud measures
- Conducting enhanced due diligence when appropriate.
6. Mutual support and trusted community - Members will work towards a trusted community of conveyancers through mutual support and information sharing between members. Members will achieve this pledge by:
- Cooperating with all other members on the development of common procedures and protocols;
- Supporting the implementation of these pledges and the development and implementation of new pledges from time to time;
- Supporting other members through communal guidance;
- Regularly attending all member meetings.
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