HSBC raises mortgage threshold for sole practitioners
HSBC has introduced a new, higher, limit for sole practitioners acting for the borrower and HSBC.
Find out more
AML: Suspicious Activity Reporting
First Direct Mortgage Panel
First Direct has informed us that their mortgage panel is now open to Licensed Conveyancers on the same basis as solicitor firms that are members of CQS.
Transaction value limits are as follows:
- Sole practitioners: up to £350,000
- Two-partner firms: up to £2m
- Four partner firms: up to £3m
Separate legal representation is required for all cases of £3m and above.
First Direct have automatically added all CLC regulated firms to their panel using information provided by the CLC, including the number of partners, so please do not contact First Direct. The CLC will keep First Direct informed of any change to your firm.
Help to Buy ISA
There has been some confusion about the operation of the Help to Buy ISA scheme. The Treasury's guidance for conveyancers sets out that the draw-down of the Help to Buy ISA bonus should take place immediately prior to completion. The savings themselves can be withdrawn by the homebuyer earlier to use as part of the deposit on their new home. This process was set up to avoid any difficulties that would arise in the event of a house purchase that fell through at any earlier stage. It is important that all intermediaries, from the ISA providers themselves, mortgage brokers and lenders to conveyancers are clear with the home-buyer about when and for what purpose the ISA savings and bonus can be used.
Find out more
PII claims: notifying them and avoiding them
View the recording of our webinar with Jacqui Gillespie of Plexus Law. Jacqui looks at best practice in notifying claims and how to avoid claims relating to joint ownership and boundaries.
Watch the webinar now
Requesting a Consent under POCA and TACT
CML amends example standard requirements letter
The CML has made a change to the example standard requirements letter, which was developed when Part 3 of the CML Lenders’ Handbook was introduced. The amendment deletes the final sentence of the sixth bullet under the ‘Pre-exchange’ section: ‘If you intend to use personal searches, please contact us to discuss this so we can ensure we are able to rely on the searches’, at the request of the Council of Property Search Organisations, as it was superfluous, given the reference to Part 1 of the Handbook.
Links to the example standard requirements letter appear at Clause 1.4 of Part 3 of the Handbook; and on the landing page of the Lenders’ Handbook on the CML website. They have both been updated.
Land Registry Applications Progress
From 14th March you can check the progress of Land Registry applications through the Land Registry portal for free. The service will be called Application Enquiry and will be an enhancement of the Day List Enquiry. The new service should save a great deal of time and telephone calls to and from lenders and the Land Registry.
Find out more
Extension to CHAPS settlement day
The Bank of England is planning to extend the CHAPS settlement day by one hour and forty minutes in June 2016. They expect the retail banks to pass the benefits of this change on to their customers.
There are full details on the Bank of England website.
We've added useful new materials to our page on tackling cyber-crime and fraud. Protect your business and your clients.
Cyber-crime and fraud
Fees and Disbursements: A reminder
The CLC’s Estimates and Terms of Engagement Code requires you to state the fees and disbursements (plus any VAT) you propose to charge to your client and how fees for abortive work will be calculated. The purpose is to avoid any misunderstanding about the level of costs which will need to be paid and how they are made up.
Any expenses incurred by you which are not charged to the client at cost must be billed as fees, rather than disbursements. One example is a telegraphic transfer fee where the sum charged to the client is more than the direct cost charged by the bank to the practice. These are described as ‘profit costs’.
A number of lenders now charge an annual panel management fee to practices to offset the cost of managing those panels. The CLC considers that those charges are an overhead for the practice. Some panels are now introducing a fee per transaction. Provided the client has been advised as soon as it becomes apparent that the charge is to be incurred, it is acceptable for that charge to be passed on to the client as an expense (and therefore charged as part of the profit costs due to the practice). However, the CLC’s view is that this charge is not a liability incurred to a third party on behalf of a Client and therefore should not be charged to the client as a disbursement.
Informing Clients about Dispute Resolution
From 1st October 2015 all regulated law firms will need to take additional action in order to comply with an EU Directive on Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution.
In addition to signposting all clients to the Legal Ombudsman in relation to any service complaints you will also need to provide information about entities that provide Alternative Dispute Resolution services.
In summary, from 1st October 2015 you must;
- continue to provide information about the Legal Ombudsman as set out in the CLC’s Complaints Code ,
- provide information about an additional ADR entity which has been certified under the EU Consumer ADR Directive (there is no requirement to use such a scheme and information about the scheme need only be provided at the end of the complaints process).
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed that the following ADR entities are available to deal with disputes in the legal services sector: Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation.
See our list of Frequently Asked Questions below
See the DRAFT amendments to the CLC Complaints Code and Guidance
More information about the EU Consumer ADR Directive and requirements for firms is on the Trading Standards website.
The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) is currently consulting on its plans to become an approved provider of Alternative Dispute Resolution. We will update you on those plans as they develop.
EU Consumer ADR Directive FAQs
FAQ1: What is the EU Consumer ADR Directive?
A: The ADR Directive requires all traders, including legal service providers, to provide information about complaints providers who have been approved by Trading Standards website
FAQ2: When does EU Consumer ADR Directive come into force?
A: 1 October 2015
FAQ3: Why does it affect me?
A: It had been hoped that the Legal Ombudsman would be recognised as a complaints provider with effect from 1 October 2015. Because the Legal Ombudsman has delayed making that application, all legal practices are required to provide information about recognised complaints providers.
FAQ4: What do I need to do?
A: You should comply with the CLC’s draft amended Complaints Code and Guidance (attached) which explains the nature of the information you need to provide and at what stage in the complaints process.
FAQ5: Are there any other EU Directives which are likely to affect the way in which I manage complaints?
A: The EU Regulation on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) comes into force on 1 January 2016. This sets out further information which legal services providers will need to supply if they are ‘online traders’. The extent of that information will depend whether the Legal Ombudsman is recognised as a complaints provider. The CLC will provide further information about the steps needed to ensure compliance over the coming weeks.
FAQ6: Where can I find further information about the EU Consumer ADR Directive?
A: For more information on the EU Consumer ADR Directive and requirements for practices, visit the Trading Standards website.
 An online trader is defined as, 'a trader who intends to enter into online sales contracts or online service contracts with consumers'
Regulatory Return 2014/2015
All CLC-regulated practices have until Friday 31st July to complete the CLC's Regulatory Return 2014/2015.
We have written with full details to the preferred contacts of each practice.
Find out more
Paying SDLT online
HMRC is building digital services that will support our customers to manage their tax affairs and payments online.
From May 19 2015, customers will be able to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax by debit or credit card using a new online payment service. Customers will see new payment screens, operated by Worldpay, to complete their payment and enter their email address to receive confirmation.
The new service will be available on GOV.UK:
For further information and alternate payment methods view Stamp Duty Land Tax
New rules for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants
As part of ongoing efforts to improve water quality and reduce pollution, Government has introduced new rules that simplify the way septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants are regulated in England.
View the new rules here.
Block run-off cover
Since 2008 the CLC has required practices which have closed to take out their own run off insurance rather than rely on the CLC’s run off block policy. Given that it is now over six years since any additional practices were brought into the run off block policy, the CLC has decided it should no longer maintain a run off block policy. If your firm is one of those in the block run-off policy, you now need to ensure that you have appropriate cover.
HSBC Panel Access
HSBC has agreed that, beginning this autumn, all Licensed Conveyancers will automatically be able to act for the Bank as long as they are currently licensed by the CLC. The only restriction is in respect of sole practitioners who are limited to cases where the mortgage does not exceed £150,000, in line with HSBC's usual practice.
In respect of the mechanics, once HSBC is ready to go live, each Licensed Conveyancer firm will need to register users on a system that will allow instructions to be sent electronically. This will not require any special software and should be a straightforward process. There will be no cost to the Licensed Conveyancer.
The CLC will provide regular data feeds to HSBC to keep them fully informed of any change to Licensed Conveyancer firms' status.
Current arrangements will stay in place until HSBC is ready to go live with the new process. Licensed Conveyancers are asked to please await a detailed announcement from the CLC in the autumn and not to contact HSBC until that announcement has been made or tell clients that they can act for HSBC until that time. If you have any questions, please contact the CLC and not HSBC as they prepare the new process.