News / General

Sep Rep remains the only option?

By Michael Sheridan

At the Law Society SGM on 23rd September 2013, the majority vote rejected a detailed rule change proposed by the Law Society. That rule change would have required mortgage lenders and borrowers to have separate legal representation.  The previous Law Society AGM and the SLAS membership had both previously voted in favour of this in principle. Now that a specific rule change has been turned down, we are informed that a new proposal has been made This is to the effect that CML should set up a separate register of solicitors authorised to act in mortgage business. Each firm would require to pay a fee, possibly from £500-£900, in order to get onto this panel. We understand that full disclosure of solicitors’ private files at the Law Society would also be required, as well as latest accounts submissions, credit references, and so on. SLAS Council would appreciate views from members as to whether we should:-

a) Take this proposal forward.

OR

b) Proceed with separate representation as a better option.

I remind you that SLAS is a purely representative body and has no views or policies other than those imposed by the membership. If members chose not to put forward their views, then there is no SLAS.         

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The proposal is from the CML itself who want to charge solicitors for this cost of £500 to
£900 per solicitor firm and obtain info from solicitors that could be used to the commercial
advantage of lenders if they choose to set up in competition. LSS has no negotiating strength
as the profession have handed our guns over to the CML with the defeat of the SEPREP vote.
So CML can do what they please and we just have to jump as high as they want us to!
Ian C Ferguson, SLAS Council Member, Glasgow

I am very concerned that CML has proposed a scheme appointing a 3rd party company to act as a “gateway” to panel membership for solicitors. So far as I am aware they are not consulting on this- it will be introduced and the Law Soc is trailing in the wake trying to limit the costs that will surely be imposed to pay for the scheme (see Santander).

Again, we as a profession should not be confused about the status of CML. They are a self interest business group that do not represent the public nor solicitors in Scotland. The Law Soc has a statutory duty to represent solicitors and the public, not this single interest group. Yet, at each stage of sep. rep. the CML seemed to be involved as “stakeholders”. This is an invented term that does not describe the CML- they do not and should not have a “stake” in how the profession in Scotland takes decisions.

I can easily imagine the “gateway” being closed to sole practitioners in Scotland. We have been fighting this battle for many years. For many sole practitioners this will mean the end of business. If we allow this scheme to be forced on us then the criteria for being a solicitor will not really be membership of the Law Society of Scotland, but membership of the CML club.

We must resist this tooth and nail. The longer term protection against the bully tactics of the CML is sep rep for all, not for the few that the CML decide not to instruct.

CW, Fife

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