Some 342 law firms have applied to join the Convey-ancing Quality Scheme (CQS) since it opened last month, the Law Society has revealed to Legal Futures.
A spokesman said the number is growing rapidly, with around 20 new applications a day at the moment.
The news came as the society announced the first four firms to make it through the assessment process to full accreditation: Martin Elliott & Co in Colchester, Kent’s Boys & Maughan, London firm PCM Solicitors and Hull-based Hamers Solicitors LLP.
Hamers partner Jim Wyatt said CQS accreditation would help the firm compete in the post-ABS marketplace, while Peter Rodd, head of conveyancing at Boys & Maughan, said the scheme “will drive up the quality of conveyancing and the level of service which solicitors give to their clients”.
Martin Elliott of Martin Elliott & Co added: “CQS will encourage the drive to e-conveyancing and will encourage the standardisation of documents and procedures by use of the new conveyancing protocol – these will help us improve efficiency and speed of service without compromising professional standards”.
Key to the success of the scheme will be lenders requiring panel firms to be accredited, and none have gone this far as yet. Last year, the Council of Mortgate Lenders gave a cautious welcome to the CQS, saying that if it is seen as robust by lenders, “many are likely to require CQS accreditation as a minimum condition for panel membership”. The CQS has a multi-million pound budget, much of which will be spent of monitoring and enforcement of the standards.
Eddie Goldmsith, chairman of the Conveyancing Association, said he thought both lenders and solicitors were waiting to see how the CQS develops. “If it gets the necessary traction across the lender community, then it’s a must for a serious conveyancer,” he said.
His firm, Goldsmith Williams, has applied for accreditation, although Mr Goldsmith noted that a panel update form sent out recently by Lloyds Banking Group covered almost all the same ground as the CQS. “It would be nice if there was some kind of joined-up thinking,” he said.
Quoted by the Law Society, Chief Land Registrar Marco Pierleoni welcomed the introduction of the CQS “as a further step in improving the conveyancing process”.
But writing on Legal Futures earlier this week, Louise Restell, head of public affairs and policy at national law firm Russell Jones & Walker and formerly with consumer group Which?, questioned the value to consumers of quality marks like CQS.