HSBC has made a U-turn and will now allow all firms that are accredited by The Law Society to be on its conveyancing panel.
The lender caused a furore in January when it announced that although customers were free to choose their own solicitor, it would only use a firm on its 43-member panel for legal work.
This sparked fears that the move would increase costs for consumers as they could effectively end up paying for two solicitors.
But last month the lender invited firms to apply to join its conveyancing panel and listed a set of criteria they must meet.
And from August, all firms accredited by The LawSociety’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme will be able to act for HSBC as well as its customers.
The Law Society has invited HSBC to assist it in further developing the CQS standard sothat it becomes the automatic requirementfor any company that wants to join a lender’s conveyancing panel.
Other lenders are also believed to be considering making it a requirement for their panels.
Martijnvan der Heijden, head of lending at HSBC, says it changed its mind after feedbackfromcustomers and solicitors.
Desmond Hudson, chief executive of The Law Society, says: “The Law Society and its members have campaigned for this change in the interests ofsolicitors’home-buyingclientssince HSBC introduced its originalpanel.
“HSBC’s willingness to engage with us has helped secure a good outcome for their mortgage customers, our CQS members and the house buying public.”
John Clay, chairman of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, says that although he welcomes the move, the lender has still not opened up its panel for licensed conveyancers, who are not solicitors but focus on residential property conveyancing.
He says: “We have been working closely with lenders and the conveyancing profession to develop our own lender panel proposition.
“The solution has been designed for licensed conveyancers and aims to give them access to all lenders’ panels.”
He adds: “We are now in the final stages of its development and plan to launch the final solution to the market within the next few months.”
He hopes the lender will also recognise its scheme and give the licenced conveyancing community the same opportunities to be on its panel.