Nationwide has increased the requirements it places on conveyancers to remain on its panel, removing firms that complete less than one mortgage case a week.
The Law Society of Scotland says the move has led to 200 of the 700 Scottish conveyancing firms on Nationwide’s panel being removed in April. Conveyancers have to complete four Nationwide cases a year.
The lender says it started removing low-volume firms from its panel at the start of this year but will not confirm how many firms have been struck off. The building society says the panel has between 3,500 and 4,000 firms.
Exclusion from the conveyancing panel can be appealed if the firm is a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme in England or Wales. The Law Society of Scotland does not run an equivalent scheme.
A Nationwide spokeswoman says: “Since early 2012, we have operated a policy whereby low-volume firms do not have the automatic option of remaining on the panel. Low-volume is set at one completion per week. Exceptions are made for firms which meet a particular need on account of their locality or services – for example they service a more remote community.”
Nationwide says no more than 0.3 per cent of its transactions have been affected by the cuts.
The convener of the Law Society’s Property Law Committee Ross MacKay says: “It would appear that these new measures take little account of the Scottish jurisdiction, are disproportionate to the actual risk of mortgage fraud, could threaten the continuing viability of some firms and will inevitably inconvenience its own customers.”
HSBC came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that only 43 firms were able to act for both the borrower and the lender. HSBC reversed this decision to allow all Law Society accredited solicitors on the panel, covering around 1,400 firms.