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The Law Society decides against further Veyo investment

Joint-venture to be wound up as Chancery Lane admits its plans were overly ambitious

3 December 2015

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The Law Society has announced that it is no longer in its members' interests to invest additional resources in electronic conveyancing system Veyo.

The joint venture between the Law Society and Mastek saw 1,880 law firms 'express an interest' in the project, with some 80 signing up to work on the first development phase of the portal. However, Veyo has been beset with complications and delays over recent months.

Des Hudson, the former chief executive of the Law Society, left his post as Veyo's chair in August, while SearchFlow announced the appointment of two of the portal's former directors, Stephanie Van den Haak and Maud Rousseau, to similar roles at the search provider.

A recent review undertaken by Legal Practice Technologies (LPT), which was created by the Law Society and Mastek to deliver the conveyancing system to the profession, has found that the market for Veyo has 'changed radically' since its inception.

This change includes new providers that have committed to bring free products to market within case management software, such as the Free2Convey portal, which is backed by the Legal Software Suppliers Association.

As a result, the Law Society announced with 'considerable regret' that it would not be making any further investment in Veyo.

'Other software providers operating in the conveyancing market are responding to our members' needs and so we have decided to step back,' said a statement from Chancery Lane.

'We are committed to identifying unmet member need and innovation, but on this occasion we also have recognised the reality that the market has developed significantly since we started to develop Veyo and that the costs of continuing outweigh the benefit to our members.'

The society said it was 'deeply sorry' that those who have waited patiently for Veyo 'will not now be able to use it.'

'We knew that the project carried risk, as all technological innovations do. Unfortunately it is no longer in our members' interests to invest resources to make a product of the high quality our members expect and deserve.

'The timetable for getting Veyo to market was, in retrospect, over ambitious. We have made the very difficult decision not to invest further in light of developments in the market which mean that case management providers are likely to meet our members' needs at no additional cost.'

Joint-venture partner Mastek said it had been a hard decision to take but was commercially the right one for both parties.

Robert Hailstone, CEO of Bold Legal Group, said the announcement came as no surprise. He noted, however, that the Law Society's president, Jonathan Smithers, had given no inkling of Veyo's demise when speaking just a few hours earlier at the Conveyancing Association conference.

'I have been following the development of Veyo closely for the last two years and I think it is fair to say, it has been one disaster after another. A number of questions now need to be asked and answered, accurately.

'My initial reaction is utter dismay. The majority of Law Society members were not crying out for a system that included a Deal Room and Chain View. Not only has a vast amount of money been spent developing the system but a huge amount was spent marketing it before it even existed and employing a sales force that had to be let go.

'Creative comments (I choose my words carefully) about how many firms had signed up, when in fact they had only registered an interest, were flowing thick and fast.

'In my opinion, the development of Veyo should never have commenced without the full consultation of Law Society members and Veyo should have been wound up many, many months ago. Most conveyancing solicitors I have been speaking to over the last two years have been saying Veyo would never launch, and if it did, it would fail. If they knew that, why didn’t the Law Society and the people developing it?

'Not a day to gloat or to say "I told you so", but a very sad and bad day for all connected with this shambles.'

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal | @JvdLD

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Business development & Strategy Conveyancing