The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has criticised “quasi-regulatory” conveyancing schemes launched by the Law Society which could be seen as “duplicating” the CLC’s work.
The CLC warned that initiatives like the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) “blur the lines between regulation and representation of lawyers”.
It said the society’s online conveyancing portal, Veyo, due to launch on 31 March, would “enshrine protocols and processes across all transactions” as well as managing identity checks.
The CLC also said, without mentioning Lender Exchange, that panel management schemes could “in some ways be seen” as duplicating its work.
However, the CLC said it would provide information to “some of the scheme operators to reduce burdens on the regulated community and in line with our desire to minimise duplication”.
Launching its strategy and 2015 business plan, the CLC said licensed conveyancers had recovered from the downturn faster than the overall market.
“The aggregate turnover of CLC-regulated entities began to recover sooner and faster than the numbers of transactions in the overall market place would have led us to expect.
“This led to a focus on ensuring that as workloads increased, standards of supervision and delivery were not compromised.
“We have also seen considerable consolidation in the conveyancing market and while the probate market remains very fragmented, we expect it to follow the pattern of conveyancing in the coming years.
“As the businesses we regulate become larger, the risks arising from failures become greater along with the potential impact on the work and resources of the CLC.”
The CLC, which was refused new rights to conduct litigation and advocacy by the Legal Services Board in 2012, said it would maintain its “specialised approach” and build on its strengths in conveyancing and probate.
However it added that “a next step might be to add litigation in respect of property matters”.
Among the business plan objectives for 2015 were a “fundamental review” of its regulatory arrangements, for completion next year, and an “inquiry into the financial viability of regulated firms”.
Launching the strategy and business plan, Sheila Kumar, chief executive of the CLC, said: “The strategy of specialisation sets a clear course for the CLC. We aim to deliver a regulatory regime based on a real understanding of those we regulate and what they do, because we believe this to be vital to client protection.”
Ms Kumar said the CLC had made great progress in the provision of information, especially online, and increased student numbers by 16% in 2014.
She said the CLC was “looking forward to the ability to issue stand-alone licences to probate practitioners”.
Ms Kumar added that the CLC was reviewing how it streamlined its processes and enhanced efficiency, without increasing regulatory fees.