Industry News

Important changes to Nationwide conveyancing panel

27 April 2015

Important changes to Nationwide conveyancing panel

Posted: 20 April 2015

Nationwide has announced changes to its conveyancing panel which affect both those already on their panel and those wishing to join.

Its panel is now open to new applications from firms that are CQS accredited.

If you're already on Nationwide's panel but are not CQS accredited, you will need to attain accreditation. The deadline for attaining CQS accreditation is yet to be confirmed by Nationwide. Nationwide has indicated that if your application for CQS has been submitted by the due date and is being processed by the Law Society, your firm will remain on the panel while your application is considered. Check the table below to see how this affects you.

Are you CQS qualified?

Are you on the Nationwide panel?

What you need to do

Yes

Yes

Follow normal reaccreditation timetable

Yes

No

Follow normal reaccreditation timetable

No

Yes

Apply for CQS accreditation. This will be treated as a new CQS application.

No

No

If you would like to apply to the Nationwide panel, you will need to first attain CQS accreditation.

Background

The Law Society is pleased that Nationwide has announced its decision to mandate the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) as a prerequisite for firms to be on its conveyancing panel. Nationwide joins other mortgage providers, including HSBC, Santander, Yorkshire Building Society, Metrobank and Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank, that require members of their panel to have CQS accreditation.

Jonathan Smithers, vice president, says 'We are pleased that Nationwide has recognised the CQS as a quality standard and wish to mandate it for firms on their panel. The CQS provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practice and has created a trusted community helping to deter fraud and drive up standards within the conveyancing marketplace.'

Benefits of CQS accreditation

CQS provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices and is recognised by consumers as a mark of a quality conveyancing service.

Achieving CQS accreditation establishes a level of credibility for member firms with stakeholders such as regulators, lenders, insurers and, ultimately, consumers. CQS is built around three main principles of probity, quality and efficiency. They are:

  • the integrity of the senior responsible officer and other key conveyancing staff
  • the firm's adherence to good practice management standards
  • adherence to prudent and efficient conveyancing procedures through the Law Society's conveyancing protocol.

Questions and answers

Here we address the questions current and potential Nationwide panel members may have about CQS.

1. How much will it cost my firm to apply for CQS?

The application fee and membership fee are payable when you submit your completed application. Any payment received by the Law Society without an accompanying application form will be held for a maximum of 30 days before being returned. The initial application fees are:

Practice size

Application fee

Membership fee

Total fees
(ex VAT)

VAT

Total
(incl VAT)

Sole practitioner

£170.00

£227.00

£397.00

£79.40

£476.40

2-4 partners

£283.00

£340.00

£623.00

£124.60

£747.60

5-10 partners

£397.00

£453.00

£850.00

£170.00

£1,020.00

11-20 partners

£510.00

£567.00

£1.077.00

£215.40

£1,292.40

21-50 partners

£623.00

£680.00

£1,303.00

£260.60

£1,563.60

50+ partners

£1,076.00

£1,133.00

£2,209.00

£441.80

£2,650.80

2. How long will my application take?

Provided that all the required information and documents are submitted with the application and there are no issues with these documents, the process usually takes, on average, three to four months.

3. Does CQS accreditation guarantee my firm will be admitted onto Nationwide's panel?

No. Nationwide applies its own selection criteria. Nationwide does, however, recognise CQS as a quality mark for the industry, and both CQS and Nationwide collect and review similar data. We understand that Nationwide's approach is aimed at providing the widest possible choice for borrowers and the process is not designed to limit its panel size.

4. On what grounds would my firm not be CQS accredited?

Your firm will be informed in writing if we reject your application and we will give the reasons for that decision. Reasons for rejection or withdrawal include:

  • Matters that are detrimental to the reputation and integrity of the CQS and its brand. This may include concerns about an individual's or firm's regulatory history, issues with a firm's financial stability, or wider PR concerns.
  • The firm does not satisfy a number of the core practice management standards or the head of department is unable to meet their own requirements, including adequate supervision and experience.
  • Any failure to co-operate with requests for information by the Accreditation Office.
  • Any breach of the scheme rules or any breach by the SRO of any obligations set out in Section 6 of the scheme rules which are not remedied (if capable of remedy) within 14 days of being required by written notice to do so.

5. When can I apply for CQS accreditation?

Please do not apply immediately as the Society is discussing a phased approach for applications with Nationwide. We will be issuing timelines to Nationwide panel members towards the end of April.

We understand that Nationwide has advised some firms of a date of 1 July 2015; however, they have confirmed they are happy to work to the Law Society's timetable for CQS applications.

6. The press release states, 'Nationwide has confirmed that from the summer, they will begin to require all members of their solicitor panel to be CQS accredited'. Is March not too late?

As stated above, the Society is discussing with Nationwide a phased approach for applications with Nationwide. We will also issue guidance to Nationwide panel members on how and when they should apply.

7. My firm is already on the Nationwide panel but we are not CQS accredited. Will we be able to continue on the panel while the CQS application is being processed?

Nationwide has indicated that if your application for CQS has been submitted by the due date and is being processed by the Law Society, your firm will remain on the panel whilst your application is considered.

8. On what grounds would my firm, which is not CQS accredited, be accepted onto Nationwide's panel?

Non-CQS accredited firms must apply for accreditation as it will be a prerequisite before Nationwide can consider panel membership. For more information on how and when to apply, please see our Conveyancing Quality Scheme information.

9. Will I be excluded from the panel on the basis that I am a sole practitioner?

Nationwide will deal with all applications on a case-by-case basis. Sole practitioners, as well as small, medium and large firms, will be subject to the criteria set by Nationwide. Sole practitioners or firms undertaking low volumes of conveyancing may still be accepted. Again, Nationwide will apply its own criteria.

10. If a firm is not successful in its application to Nationwide, will it receive an explanation and will it have the right of appeal?

Nationwide does have an appeals process. It is Nationwide's policy not to disclose the reasons for rejecting panel membership following consideration at the time of application or on appeal. If you need further advice, please contact the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675.

11. What is the Law Society doing with lenders to ensure that all CQS firms can be automatically considered for panel membership with all major lenders?

The Society continues to work hard on engaging with lenders and promoting the CQS accreditation wherever possible.

12. I am waiting for Veyo to launch. Do I still need CQS?

Yes, if you want to be considered for admission to the Nationwide panel.

13. Is there a link between CQS and Veyo? If so, what is it?

Yes. CQS will focus on quality and will look to focus more on conveyancing skills, experience and client service. CQS is recognised by consumers as the mark of a quality conveyancing service and is acknowledged by many lenders as a prerequisite to joining their panel.

Veyo will be a utility platform focused on processing and firm validation. Veyo takes the Law Society's CQS standards and helps you deliver against them while offering unique functions like the 'Deal Room', which will facilitate agreement of exchange and completion dates and offer enhanced visibility of the details and progress of all properties via the 'Chain View' feature, which can be accessed by professionals and homebuyers. Veyo is endorsed by the Law Society. It will be a secure, transparent and efficient system to help your conveyancing business.

The two products will co-exist in the market helping you to attract clients adding real value to your business.

- See more at: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/nationwide-conveyancing-panel/?utm_source=emailhosts&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PU+-+23%2F04%2F15#sthash.yp7z9RVV.dpuf

,

If your firm requires assistance in becoming a member of the Nationwide panel call Brian Greevy on 07553 371 383 to discuss how LBS Legal can help you.

Ian Braithwaite
Client Relationship Manager

T: 0113 385 4483
M: 07432 695 289
E: ian.braithwaite@lbslegal.co.uk

For General Enquiries: Email enquiries@lbslegal.co.uk
24 hour Helpline 0845 0563949
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