The Law Society “must be held to account” for the collapse of conveyancing portal Veyo, the founder of the Bold Legal Group has said.
In an open letter to the society’s president and chief executive, conveyancer Rob Hailstone attacked Chancery Lane’s “weak excuses” and accused it of “hiding the truth about its mismanagement”.
Mr Hailstone – whose group has 380 law firm members and focuses on conveyancing – said that following the recent demise of Veyo, “a significant number of solicitors (and conveyancers) have requested and deserve an explanation, an apology, answers and accountability” from those in the higher echelons of the Law Society and Legal Practice Technologies (LPT), the joint venture with Mastek which developed Veyo.
“To place the failure of Veyo on the ‘changing shape of the market’ and ‘free products coming to the market’ is both incredulous and insulting,” Mr Hailstone said.
“I appreciate that Mastek may want to keep things quiet from a commercial viewpoint but the Law Society relies on its members’ contributions and must be held to account by its members.”
Mr Hailstone asked how Free2Convey, the rival free conveyancing portal developed by the Legal Software Suppliers Association, was developed within a matter of months and at a fraction of the cost of Veyo.
“Surely Veyo, allegedly costing millions to develop (or should I say, not develop), would have had a lot more to offer and would still have been able to compete?
“Up until only a month or so before Veyo’s demise, Jonathan Smithers, the Law Society president was still implying publicly that Veyo would dominate its competitors. That was despite the continual stories being leaked that Veyo’s days were numbered.”
Mr Hailstone set out a list of 15 questions raised by members of his group, including the full details of how much money has been spent/lost on the project and how much was still owed, whether a thorough investigation into Veyo’s failure would be carried out and the results published, whether “what is left of Veyo” had “any value”, and why the Law Society allowed the project to “limp along for so long at a huge cost”.
Mr Hailstone concluded: “I am sure that many solicitors and conveyancers sincerely hope that the right thing will be done and that the above questions will be answered honestly, swiftly and comprehensively.”
Mr Smithers responded with a short letter yesterday. It said: “Closing the Veyo project was a difficult decision made by the Law Society and Mastek after an independent review of the market, which has changed significantly, and the cost and time needed to get a product to market.
“We are sorry for the disappointment caused to conveyancers who were waiting for Veyo to be launched. We will learn lessons from this project and will ensure that changes are made and that the same mistakes are not repeated. Those who were responsible for running LPT, which was an independent company from the Law Society, are no longer involved with the Law Society. Your other points are answered in the statement made by LPT’s board earlier this month.”
Mr Hailstone said he was going to consult his members for their views on this reply, but added: “My immediate reaction is one of absolute disbelief that something so important can be brushed aside as if the loss of a large amount of money is like losing some petty cash.”