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Ready to buy a new home? Failing to check that a lawyer is on the Coutts & Co list of approved solicitors can put your transaction at risk of delay or failure.

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I am progressing with the sale of my maisonette and the EA has just called to warn that the buyers are switching solicitor. I am told that this is due to the fact that Coutts & Co will only deal with property lawyers on their conveyancing panel. On what basis would a major mortgage company only engage with specific solicitors?
Banks have always had panels of law firms they are willing to work with, but in the past few years big names such as Lloyds Banking Group, have reviewed and reduced their conveyancing panel– in some cases removing conveyancing firms who have worked with them for more than 15 years.

Banks point to the increase in fraud by way of justification for the cull – criteria have been tightened and a smaller panel should be easier to keep an eye on. No lender will say how many solicitors have been dropped, claiming the information is commercially sensitive, but the Law Society says it is hearing daily from firms that have been removed from panels, or have other concerns about them. Some do not even realise they have been dropped until contacted by a borrower who has instructed them as might be the situation in your buyer’s case. Your purchasers are unlikely to have any sway in the decision.

Our son is in the process of securing a new build apartment with a home loan from Coutts & Co. His conveyancer has advised him of a delay in completing the ‘Disclosure of Incentive Form’. What is this document - I have never come across this before?
The document is intended to provide information to the main parties engaged in the transaction. Therefore, it will be provided to your son’s lawyer who should be on the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel as a standard part of the process, and to the valuer when asked.

The Developer will be required to start the process by downloading the form and completing it.

The form will therefore need to be available for the valuer at the time of his or her site visit. The form should be sent to the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel solicitor as early as possible, in order to avoid any last minute delays, and no later than at exchange of contracts.

I note that you have a post code search directory listing solicitors on the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel. Do firms pay you a commission if I retain them for my conveyancing?
We are a listing service only for law firms wishing to communicate if they are on the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel or other lender panels. We do not charge referral fees to the any conveyancer that you subsequently appoint.
Can you clarify what the consequences are if my solicitor is suspended from the Coutts & Co Conveyancing panel in advance of the completion date?
First, this is a very rare occurrence. In most cases even where a law firm is removed off of a panel the lender would allow the completion to go ahead as the lender would appreciate the difficulties that they would place you in if you have ti instruct a new solicitor days before completion. In a worst case scenario where the lender insists that you instruct a new firm then it is possible for a very good lawyer to expedite the conveyancing albeit that you may pay a significant premium for this. The analogous situation is where a buyer instructs a lawyer, exchanges contracts and the law firm is shut down by the regulator such as the SRA. Again, in this situation you can find lawyers who can troubleshoot their way to bring the conveyancing to a satisfactory conclusion - albeit at a cost.
Last month we had a mortgage agreed in principle with Coutts & Co. Solicitors have been instructed? What is the average time that one could expect to receive a mortgage offer from Coutts & Co?
There is no definitive answer here. Have Coutts & Co conducted the valuation? Have you advised Coutts & Co as your lawyers details and checked that your lawyer is on the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel? It is not unusual for a mortgage offer to take a month to come through
I have decided to exercise my right to buy my property off the council. I have a mortgage offer with Coutts & Co. Conveyancing is not something I have any knowledge of. Can I proceed without a solicitor easily? I think we can but we keep being told I should use one. Any advice?
It is not advisable proceed with a house purchase without a solicitor. The council's solicitor are not acting for you. You need a solicitor for a number reasons. One of which is to verify what plans the Council have for repairs and refurbishment for the next five years. Many leaseholders have been stung for contributions of thousands of pounds. In any event if you are getting a mortgage with Coutts & Co you will need to appoint a solicitor on the Coutts & Co conveyancing panel.
Completion of my remortgage has taken place with a loan from Coutts & Co. Conveyancing was satisfactory but I feel I should register my dissatisfaction about Coutts & Co. Who do I contact should I wish to lodge a complaint?
Most banks and building societies have complaints procedures. Your first point of contact should be one of the Coutts & Co branches or the Customer Care Team at Coutts & Co head office. In most cases complaints to Coutts & Co are sorted out very quickly. If you feel that the matter is not resolved you can write to the Financial Ombudsman Service at South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR who will take matters further.