Solicitors are up in arms over HSBC’s decision to only use conveyancers from a restricted panel, according to a network that represents UK high street law firms.
The Bold Group says it has been contacted by close to 100 firms in an unprecedented outpouring of frustration and anger since HSBC announced it was launching a conveyancer panel for its mortgage customers earlier this month.
The panel consists of 42 firms and although customers are free to use their own solicitor, HSBC says it will still use a firm from the panel for its own legal work if they do so, and that customers will be offered incentives to use a solicitor from the panel.
Rob Hailstone, founder of The Bold Group, says: “It’s understandable that many law firms feel both threatened and angry about HSBC’s decision. Since The Bold Group launched in 2010, we have never seen a single announcement stir up so much furore among our members.
“I strongly believe that within a relatively short period of time, HSBC and its mortgage customers will regret this badly thought through and poorly implemented development and I would urge HSBC to reconsider its position now.”
The Bold Group says it will be collating feedback and concerns from its members and submitting them to HSBC over the coming weeks.
The Law Society has also expressed concern over the panel, saying that having only 42 firms for the whole of the UK may restrict consumer choice.
Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, says: “Although HSBC has a relatively small share of the mortgage market, such a low number of firms could struggle to provide all consumers – those who struggle to communicate other than in person or those who would prefer to use a local solicitor – with the service they seek.
“With more than 1,000 firms holding the CQS accreditation mark in England & Wales, HSBC need not limit its panel to 42. It is disappointing that HSBC failed to consult the Law Society.”
A spokeswoman for HSBC says: “We are not restricting consumer choice; customers will always be able to choose their own solicitor.
“A panel size of 42 firms is perfectly feasible for the level of mortgage business we are doing at the moment.”