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What Is The Conveyancing Quality Scheme?

View profile for Paul Hajek
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What sort of conveyancing services should you expect when you instruct your Conveyancing Solicitor to act for you when you move home?

Conveyancing Quality is a feeling: you can’t touch, see or smell it, yet you will know it once you have experienced it.

A reasonable question to ask.

But, the quality of Conveyancing services can appear to be “invisible"

What Conveyancing service your Conveyancing Solicitor thinks you need and what service you want may be two different things altogether.

Welcome to Day 19 of our blog a day, 31 Days in May series – your Conveyancing questions answered – all in one place: Conveyancing Quality Scheme

The Law Society Scheme

The Law Society introduced its Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) back in April 2011 to enable the public to more readily recognise and distinguish Conveyancing quality.

CQS was designed also to streamline the conveyancing process for practitioners, drive up standards, and require bespoke training to ensure continuity of quality.

All with the goal of providing a better Conveyancing experience for you.

How Has The Conveyancing Quality Scheme Fared?

Coverage

CQS has, over a relatively short time, created a trusted community amongst solicitors which has helped to streamline and improve conveyancing standards. The number of solicitor firms has grown steadily since inception and covers most of England and Wales.

Lenders and insurers

Most Lenders now regard CQS as a ground-zero entry point for panel membership and continued membership.

Lender requirements have focused the minds of the more recalcitrant conveyancing firms who saw no intrinsic value in CQS on launch.

Professional Indemnity Insurers routinely ask whether your firm is part of CQS and in which year it joined.

Marketing

An original aim of CQS was to facilitate differentiation in marketing and to generate new enquiries.

I have not seen much evidence, other than CQS logo placement, that firms have used it as a major differentiator.

I posted a blog on the Clutton Cox website outlining what we regard as the ‘Four C’s’ of CQS: competence, confidentiality, commitment, and courtesy, which has been viewed over 1,000 times – so, clients are clearly interested in the differences the scheme is intended to highlight.

CQS itself

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme requires all law firms to be recognised as expert, accurate, and appropriate.

Each firm must seek reaccreditation each year.

Conveyancers within firms must demonstrate competency by completing online exams. The exams are continually developed and this year included mandatory exams on conveyancing practice and risk and compliance.

According to the scheme requirements, the conveyancing firm must ensure that its advice to clients is cost effective and communicated in a manner that is appropriate.

The firm must also act with integrity and strict confidentiality in all its dealings. This seems obvious to us as practitioners, but turn it around; some clients may not know the scope of what we do. A little bit of reassurance and peace of mind is always welcome.

Our Four C’s of CQS: Competence, confidentiality, commitment, and courtesy

I characterise membership of CQS as displaying:

1. Competence

Conveyancing Quality Scheme law firms must only accept conveyancing instructions where it can meet its commitment to the provision of an expert and professional service to clients. This may seem a curious – if not a given – requirement for any solicitor. But why should a client have their conveyancing carried out by a litigator or criminal law solicitor?

Clients can expect:

To receive advice on the steps in the conveyancing process and what you can expect from your conveyancing solicitor;

Timescales and to be regularly informed of progress in your sale or purchase;

To have their questions answered promptly; and

To be informed about any problems as soon as they occur.

2. Confidentiality

In a conveyancing context, this needs a little tweaking as we are required to ensure that the conveyancing transaction as transparent as possible and to share information with others to assist in the efficient management of each transaction or chain of transactions. The second C of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme – confidentiality – is therefore guaranteed for client’s peace of mind.

3. Commitment

A client is entitled to expect real commitment from the practice in handling their transaction and attach appropriate priority to their requirements. The Letter of Engagement and/or Terms and Conditions of the conveyancing practice should set out what the client can expect, including a fixed fee or a best estimate.

Clients receive details of the firm’s complaints procedure if things go wrong.

Commitment should not finish at the end of the matter as client feedback is actively encouraged and valued. Without feedback, good and bad, no conveyancing firm can hope to keep improving. The third C of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme – commitment – gives clients further reassurance.

4. Courtesy

All clients are entitled to be dealt with in a respectful and courteous manner.

This will manifest itself with how the clients are greeted at reception and not keeping them waiting for appointments.

Courtesy will also be displayed in all communications whether on the telephone by letter or email.

For example, your conveyancing solicitor must meet and greet clients in reception, ensure that clients are not kept waiting etc.

Simple and straightforward advice and service is a hallmark of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and reinforced by the fourth C – courtesy.

What the Conveyancing Quality Scheme Means for You

As I’ve said for you that means when you are moving home you have the reassurance, confidence and peace of mind that you are in the safe hands of a specialist Conveyancing Solicitor.

There are now well over 2000 firms of Conveyancing Solicitors who have achieved the requisite standard so you should find a CQS accredited law firm near you.

Clutton Cox is an accredited firm of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme and has been since 2011. We are now in our seventh year of membership.

As a first step when deciding which Solicitor to choose make sure you instruct a Conveyancing Quality Standard law firm.

Did you know? We have our own very own smartphone app! Click here to find out more.

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