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Conveyancers call for Competition and Markets Authority study of their sector

fIXFLO news story

Conveyancers have called on the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a specific review into the conveyancing industry.

The call comes after the CMA published a market study of legal services in England and Wales in December.

It found that competition in legal services for consumers and small businesses was not working well.

It criticised a lack of information on price, quality and service, saying there was not enough help for people to choose the best option for them.

The CMA also said there was a wide variation in costs for similar services.

It called on providers to display information on price, service, redress and regulatory status. It also called for the development of comparison and review sites.

However, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers has now called for a market study specifically into conveyancing, saying that comparison websites might not be fit for purpose.

It said that it is concerned that the CMA has bracketed conveyancing as a commoditised area of law, where it should be easy to implement changes.

SLC chairman Simon Law said: “it is of concern to the members of the SLC that the CMA appears to believe that conveyancing is a commoditised market.

“We are concerned that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not provide consumers with the breadth of information required to make an informed buying decision.

“It also has the potential to act as a barrier to innovation and growth, by the conveyancing profession.

“It must be noted that all licensed conveyancers are required by their regulator (the Council for Licensed Conveyancers) to provide clients with fixed quotation prior to instruction, ensuring there is a complete transparency for their clients.

“As conveyancers, we are constantly informed from third party research and surveys that consumers do not pick their conveyancer on price alone.

“In this context, the use of websites that are primarily based on price comparison would not appear to be fit for purpose.

“Conveyancing is a very competitive market place and if simple price transparency was fundamental to increasing market share then such comparison websites would have been introduced a long time ago.”

He went on to say that in conveyancing, there are many different business models: “There are many firms that offer a personalised face to face service but also a large number of firms who offer a technology based service. Any publication of customer satisfaction results would need to take this in to account. Of particular concern would be the publishing of complaints.

“More detailed reporting of complaints would add unnecessary burdens upon conveyancers and ultimately drive up costs for consumers.”

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Source:: Conveyancers call for Competition and Markets Authority study of their sector