Co-op accuses solicitors of hiding conveyancing charges in small print

Conveyancing: Co-op tells consumers to avoid lawyers charging by the hour

Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has accused some solicitors of hiding extra charges in the small print of their quotes.

Issuing a warning to consumers, CLS said that in a highly competitive business like conveyancing, “it is all too easy to find yourself buying what looks like a cheap conveyancing service when, in fact, the end price will be inflated by hidden charges”.

The move is the first sign of an aggressive push by CLS in the wake of receiving its alternative business structure licence and announcing plans to recruit 3,000 extra staff over the next five years.

It said: “When scrutinising the small print of your conveyancing quotes, look out for abbreviations, which are sometimes used to help conceal extra charges. A common example is ‘PI’ or ‘PI contribution’, the PI standing for professional indemnity insurance. This is an overhead and should be included in the solicitor’s basic fee.

“Another common abbreviation is ‘TTF’ for telegraphic transfer fee. This fee will apply if amounts of £60,000 or more are being transferred, for example, if you are redeeming your mortgage. However, if the amount is less than this, the BACS system can be used for free.”

CLS – which was promoting its own service, including a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee – advised consumers against instructing solicitors who charge by the hour, and that they should steer clear of those who include in the “small print” other overheads such as postage and phone calls, as well as time spent dealing with the lender and filling out paperwork.

Similarly, if disbursements are not itemised “or again, if ‘added extras’ appear in the small print, it may be best to look elsewhere”, it said.

A spokesman said: “Moving house is stressful enough without the worry of unexpected extra conveyancing costs. That’s why it’s important to use a reputable and reliable service that offers free advice and a ‘no move, no fee’ guarantee.”



    Readers Comments

  • Liz Rodgers says:

    This culture towards no win/no sale no fee is appalling. We are professionals and should expect to be treated as such! My response to anyone who enquires as to a no sale no fee is whether they would expect to say “I am not paying” when they receive an adverse survey report and have to walk away from a property, or an adverse inspection report on, say, a car and walk away from that – the answer is always NO! So why should our profession suddenly decide that if something goes wrong a seller or buyer does not need to pay for our services??
    The majority of the firms I know don’t have “hidden” costs – all costs and disbursements are very clearly set out in initial emails and correspondence.
    Clearly a muddying of the waters is going on here.

  • This type of scare mongering is a taste of things to come. They neglect to mention that we must (as a matter of professional conduct) set out disbursements and additional expenses when providing an indication as to costs. It is merely a marketing exercise to ensure that the public choose them over a solicitor. These brands are all about market force and I am intrigued to see how the quality of legal services will be affected by what is a deliberately opaque marketing ploy.

  • David Sheridan says:

    Not a very clever accusation given the Channel 4 disclosures about lack of transparency in pricing at Co-Op Funeralcare, let alone the rest. This is obviously a campaign – and one that is ill-thought through. Now what did Mr Wates, the Deputy CEO of Co-Op group say about lawyers the other week? Something about being responsible for the stress of bereavement…

  • Hidden costs? Perhaps they should give examples? name and shame. Maybe they could get Dispatches to do a programme about Co-Op Funeral Care despatches?
    I agree that a reputable and reliable service should always be used. That’s why I’ve made arrangements with a local funeral home and not Co-Op Funeral Care.
    If they want to offer No Sale No Fee that’s fine. They will proabaly do is effective and reliable job as the funeral care people.

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