The Office of Fair Trading makes their decision on the HSBC panel
HSBC have come under scrutiny due to the size of its conveyancing panel. It contains 39 solicitor companies and only 4 licensed conveyancing firms. Sole practitioners insisted that the Office of Fair Trading investigate the arrangement as the lenders are restricting the freedom of consumer choice.
The size of the HSBC Conveyancing panel means that clients who have a HSBC mortgage may feel limited to which Conveyancer or solicitor to carry out their conveyancing but HSBC have noted that, ‘Customers will still be able to instruct other companies that are not on the HSBC panel to act for them but they must cover the cost of the panel solicitor to act on behalf of the bank.’
The Office of Fair Trading has decided that the size of the HSBC Conveyancing panel won’t have, ‘sufficient negative impact on competition’ therefore, there not taking any further action. They have commented on the HSBC’s possible future panel to the Law Society Gazette, ‘we expect that it will continue to have an extensive conveyancing panel which includes smaller as well as larger firms.’ The Office of Fair Trading has also said, ‘customers of HSBC may also benefit from the lender’s ability to monitor and control quality due to the repeated interactions they have with their panel firms.’
The decision of the Office of Fair Trading has outraged some solicitors. They believe that the approach of the Office of Fair Trading appears ‘short sighted’ and if other lenders do the same thing as HSBC, it will cause a much bigger issue for small solicitor firms as it could drive work to larger companies.
Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd
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