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Hudson concerned by HSBC’s 42-firm panel

6 January 2012

Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, has expressed his concern after the HSBC revealed that its new lender conveyancing panel would be made up of only 42 firms for the whole of the UK.

“HSBC’s decision to appoint only CQS accredited firms to its panel is further evidence that the scheme is firmly establishing itself as an essential standard for lenders,” Hudson said.

“Nevertheless, we are concerned that fewer than 42 firms will serve home-buyers who use HSBC for their mortgage in England and Wales. Does this provide sufficient consumer choice?

“Although HSBC has a relatively small share of the mortgage market, such a low number of firms could struggle to provide all consumers – those who struggle to communicate other than in person or those who would prefer to use a local solicitor with the service they seek.”

Hudson said that with more than 1000 firms holding the CQS accreditation mark in England and Wales, HSBC did not need to limit its panel to fewer than 42.

“It is disappointing that HSBC failed to consult the society,” Hudson said. “I suspect they have made the calculation that the majority of their customers will opt to use the bank’s solicitor.

“Being on a panel such as that will be valuable. How long will bankers resist the temptation for a quick profit by selling places on that panel and putting up costs for house buyers? This is not in the long term interests of consumers. HSBC should reconsider.”

Hudson added that the disabled, those living in rural areas or those wanting to use their family solicitor will have little choice but to opt for the same solicitor as HSBC or pay twice over.

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