The demise of the Law Society and Mastek’s online conveyancing portal Veyo gives the “green light” to rival system Free2Convey, the chair of the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) has said.
The Law Society and Mastek announced last week that there would be no further investment in Veyo, with the society telling conveyancers it was “deeply sorry” that having “waited patiently” for the product, they would not be able to use it.
The LSSA has been developing Free2Convey, which was unveiled by chair Matt Lancaster this summer, through a pilot scheme. Like Veyo, it offers conveyancers a ‘deal room’ to work together on contracts and a form of ‘chain view’, but unlike Veyo, is free to use.
“This is the green light for the LSSA through Free2Convey to continue its work with the conveyancing profession,” Mr Lancaster said. “We welcome input and co-operation from all parties and it’s now time to establish Free2Convey as the central conveyancing portal to meet the needs of all stakeholders in property transactions.
“We have always believed that healthy competition achieves the best results in any software development market and this certainly applies to legal software.
“We agreed with the core objectives of Veyo and the LSSA has worked consistently to be at the cutting edge of supplying the best IT to the legal profession.”
Mr Lancaster added that he thanked the Law Society and Mastek, “along with numerous commentators”, for citing Free2Convey as the way forward.
Eddie Goldsmith, chair of the Conveyancing Association, described the collapse of Veyo as a “great shame and setback for the profession”, particularly at a time when the government was “looking again at the question of supply of conveyancing services”.
The Treasury said in a paper on boosting competition for consumer services last month that it would launch a call for evidence on options to make the home-buying process more “consumer-friendly”.
Mr Goldsmith went on: “Since the outset the Conveyancing Association supported the concept of a ‘go to’ conveyancing portal working towards an e-trusted conveyancing community. It is a shame that it did not materialise out of this venture.
“Regrettably when an IT project such as this fails to deliver, not only is there a huge waste of time and effort but also a considerable waste of money.”
The Law Society said it paid £600,000 for a 60% stake in Veyo in May 2014, but it also paid Mastek £2,668,000 during the 12 months from 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014. It will not confirm what was paid from then until last week until the 2015 annual accounts are published next July.
Rob Hailstone, chair of the Bold Legal Group, said in a formal statement last week: “I have been following the development of Veyo closely for the last two years and I think it is fair to say, it has been one disaster after another.
“My initial reaction is utter dismay. The majority of Law Society members were not crying out for a system that included a Deal Room and Chain View.
“Not only has a vast amount of money been spent developing the system but a huge amount was spent marketing it before it even existed and employing a sales force that had to be let go.
“In my opinion, the development of Veyo should never have commenced without the full consultation of Law Society members and Veyo should have been wound up many, many months ago.
“Most conveyancing solicitors I have been speaking to over the last two years have been saying Veyo would never launch, and if it did, it would fail. If they knew that, why didn’t the Law Society and the people developing it?”