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New conveyancing service to sign up six firms by Christmas

25 May 2011

In-Deed, the conveyancing service launched earlier this week by Rightmove’s founder Harry Hill, is looking to sign up six firms on to its panel between now and Christmas, Solicitors Journal can reveal.

The new service went live on Monday with two firms: five-partner Stockport-based O’Neill Patient and nine-partner firm Breeze and Wyles, headquartered in Hertford with branch offices in Bishop Stortford, Enfield and Waltham Cross.

A third firm, Grindeys, has already been approved on the panel but has not yet officially started working for In-Deed yet. The firm has ten partners and operates through four offices in Stoke-on-Trent and Stone, Staffordshire.

In-Deed co-founder Peter Gordon, a former executive with venture capitalist 3i, also confirmed that In-Deed was working towards a stock exchange listing with a view to floating on AIM within a month.

Gordon also said In-Deed would consider taking a share in the capital of panel firms if there was potential to create further opportunities for growth.

Panel firms were selected after a due diligence process taking account of the quality of their legal processes, customer ethos and ability to absorb volume business, according to Gordon, who says Lexcel and other quality marks such as the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme were not among the criteria used.

Clients will be allocated equally to individual firms on the basis of availability, balancing out new instructions with work already underway.

At the beginning of each week firms are expected to provide In-Deed information about their current and projected workload, which will allow the business to identify availability among panel firms.

Typically homebuyers will pay between £650 and £750, including £200 to In-Deed as an introducer pledging a certain service level. This includes a secure online interface, or ‘dashboard’, allowing clients to track the progress of their case and interact with their lawyer.

The service comes with a price guarantee on a ‘no completion, no fee’ basis and lawyers also commit to updating clients every 48 hours via the dashboard – including, where applicable, reasons why there is nothing new to report.

Once allocated to a firm clients deal directly with their lawyers on the usual retainer basis. Gordon likened the service to online banking but clarified that the ‘dashboard’ was not a substitute to direct contact between conveyancers and clients, with lawyers also promising to be available by phone.

Panel members do not pay a referral fee or commission but firms will earn more out of this arrangement than they would typically get for being a panel law firm for a lender, according to Gordon, who says quality of service rather than price is the main driver when selling the In-Deed service.

In a statement In-Deed said it would “take the conveyancing market by storm” and become market leader within three years.

Harry Hill said “increased price competition to secure a shrinking market has driven service standards in conveyancing that are unacceptable in many cases”.

Hill founded Rightmove in 2000 and left the online estate agent business in 2005. He was also chief executive of Countrywide, the former estate agency arm of Nationwide which he bought from the building society in 1994 for £1.

Other senior executives include Julie Williams, former head of Countrywide’s conveyancing panel, Chris Harris, former Legal Services Director of LMS, and Philip Williamson, former Nationwide CEO and former chairman of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, who joins as a non-executive director. .

Categorised in:

Procedures Conveyancing