- Legal Futures - https://www.legalfutures.co.uk -

Regulator presses Simplify to help clients change conveyancer

Conveyancing: Disruption continues

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is pressing the Simplify group to reach a position where it can provide its files to clients who wish to change lawyer following the recent cyber-attack.

Ten days on from the attack, the latest updates from the CLC and Simplify – which owns Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers – said that all contracted completions due last week took place.

Simplify said it was now moving on to exchanging contracts on files that were ready to exchange and complete.

“We continue prioritising those transactions scheduled to complete this week, we are also now working on cases that are nearing exchange of contracts, with systems in place to progress them through to exchange and completion.

“While this is still taking a little longer than normal, we have already exchanged a significant number of contracts and we expect the number per day to increase steadily as the capacity of our restored systems builds.

“We also remain up to date on completing transactions that have already exchanged contracts and we expect this to continue going forward. We also now expect almost all remortgage completions to be up to date and be kept up to date going forward.”

Simplify has confirmed that clients who want to move to a different conveyancer will not be charged for the work it has done and that, once they are available, land searches already completed may be transferred too.

The CLC said: “Clients who have not yet exchanged contracts with their seller or buyer must consider whether to wait to progress their transactions when Simplify’s systems are running again or whether to instruct a different conveyancer.

“The limited access Simplify currently has to transaction files means that they cannot currently provide files to another conveyancer. We are pressing Simplify to address this.

“This could mean that you would need to start from the beginning, and this may result in your transaction taking longer.”

Simplify added that it was “continuing to actively contact clients” to update them on the situation.

“We still have work to do before we are back to normal but we are using all available time, resource and money to do this as quickly and safely as possible. This work continues 24/7 and will not stop until we are fully up to speed again.”

But the CLC said Simplify was unable to say when it would be able to return to business as usual.

“The circumstances also mean that the firms cannot currently provide their individual clients with rapid updates on the progress of their transaction.”

The huge amount of discussion on social media about the attack continues to criticise Simplify heavily for its communication.

One contributor to the ‘When conveyancers go rogue’ Facebook group set up last Friday – which now has 850 members – wrote today that her telephone number had been taken for the 26th time this week.

“Finally I’ve cracked and sobbed down the phone, sent a begging email to the CEO (5th email no reply). I give up – homeless, furniture in storage, animals being boarded and no one gives a shit.”

Another said: “Just spoke to my conveyancer. She confirmed there are thousands of outstanding transactions and only a few computers in the Leicester office that are being used so do the maths.

“She works from home but has promised to work through the night and on the weekend to get us moved forward if it comes down to it.

There were also some more positive messages from clients who reported that progress was being made on their transactions.

A conveyancer who has been answering questions on the group said Searchflow was forwarding searches to new conveyancers when instructed by Premier Property Lawyers.