The property slump has had a major impact on the ranks of licensed conveyancers, with the number of students more than halving in just two years.
The 2009 annual report of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), published last week, showed there were fewer than 800 students last year, compared with more than 1,800 in 2007.
The report said: “The reduction was not surprising due to the downturn in the economy and subsequent recession which impacted heavily on training and development opportunities for employees and also resulted in redundancies within the legal sector.” The CLC’s income for the year was £1m, down from £1.2m in 2008.
There were 195 licensed conveyancer practices in 2009, which between them generated five claims against the compensation fund – and payments of £1,435 – while seven of the 78 inspections of practices led to disciplinary referrals. There were 129 complaints against the 957 licensed conveyancers, a 27% drop on the 2008.
One of the CLC’s strategic objectives is to increase the number and categories of regulated providers. Accreditation to regulate probate services was achieved in November 2008 and the first qualifying examinations took place in September 2009. By December 2009 there were 28 licensed probate practitioners and 99 probate students.
The CLC is planning to apply next for litigation and advocacy rights, ahead of becoming a regulator of alternative business structures next year (see story).