EDDIE GOLDSMITH, SENIOR PARTNER, GOLDSMITH WILLIAMS
As a lawyer I like to think I am part of an honourable profession and that clients can trust their legal representatives.
I’m pleased to say that most lawyers are indeed trustworthy but it pains me to admit that this is not always the case.
Last year, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority investigated 106 law firms following reports of possible mortgage and property misconduct.
Some 22 were closed down by the SRA and 24 were referred to the police for further investigation. A further 30 cases have been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and more may end up being struck off.
So it’s true – the legal profession is not as squeaky clean as I and others in it would like to believe.
Of course, in reality solicitors are no different from other professions – mortgage brokers included. The majority uphold high standards and a small minority step over the line and put the reputation of the rest in jeopardy.
But with the SRA handling more than 400 cases of suspected mortgage and property fraud last year brokers need to be on their guard. You should be aware of the potential risks involved in referring long-standing and loyal clients to law firms that are unknown to you.
Ideally, you should check them out on the SRA website and speak to fellow brokers who may have used their services. If in doubt, don’t take a risk. You have plenty of choice, including firms with many years’ experience serving brokers.