View more on these topics

Conveyancing shake-up

Banks could cash in on changes to the way the legal sector is regulated and buy conveyancing firms.

The draft Legal Services Bill, published in May, proposes to reform the way legal services are regulated by establishing the Legal Services Board and put consumer interests at the heart of the regulatory framework.

The draft also outlines arrangements to open up the legal profession and facilitate alternative business structures which would let non-lawyers run law firms for the first time.

Edward Goldsmith, managing director of Goldsmith Williams, says: “This presents a raft of opportunities. Lawyers are generally considered slow and expensive but the conveyancing and remortgage side of the legal market is a 1bn-plus industry.”

Goldsmith predicts that once the bill is in place, high street banks and building societies will set up or acquire conveyancing firms, taking the services under their own brands.

He says: “Big firms will be able to provide one-stop shops for everything from estate agent branches, conveyancing resources and financial advice to Home Information Packs and money lending. It is also a chance for lawyers to seek investment and align themselves with strong brands.”

But he warns that firms which aren’t forward-thinking could be left behind and while the bill offers opportunities it will also cause casualties.

The bill may have an effect on solicitor referral fees which are currently the subject of a fierce debate in the legal profession because of their commercial aspect. Once the Legal Services Board is up and running it may have to decide whether the commercial value of referral fees outweighs the possible detriment to consumers.

Goldsmith adds: “The changes will blow the market open to competition. If lawyers think they’ve got it tough now they should see what’s coming.”


FSA denies it is planning cascade system probe

The Financial Services Authority has denied it is planning to investigate cascade systems, but says it continues to watch all as-pects of the mortgage advice process. Speculation had been rising within the in- dustry that the regulator was looking closely at how lenders’ cascade systems interact with its Treating Customers Fairly initiative. This follows concerns […]

Basle II rule could raise equity rates by 0.75%

Equity release rates could rocket by as much as 0.75% if Financial Services Authority capital requirements go through, industry sources have warned. On the back of the Europe-wide implementation of the Basle II capital adequacy requirements, the issue concerns the classification of lifetime mortgages as investment assets rather than residential mortgages. Equity release providers had […]

Complete unveils World Cup draw

Complete Mortgage & Loan Services has launched a World Cup draw to run from June 9 to July 9. Each case submitted by brokers during this period will qualify for a ticket in a prize draw with the chance to win one of five flat screen TVs.

Unity Homeloans appoints head of sales

Unity Homeloans, the lender created by intermediaries to serve the needs ofintermediaries and backed by Investec, has appointed Rob Field as head of sales.Field will be responsible for developing the business through maintaining and strengthening relationships with Unitys distributors.He joins Unity from All Types of Mortgages where he was sales manager and has more than […]


Case study: administration — managing group life schemes

Our client leads the global market in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media. The trustees of the company’s final salary pension scheme insure death-in-service lump sum and dependants’ pension death benefits for active employees, as well as dependants’ pension benefits for deferred members (those who have left service).


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up