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Find an Approved Solicitor on the Saffron Building Society Conveyancing Panel

FAQs : The Saffron Building Society Conveyancing Panel

I am selling my apartment and the EA has just called to say that the buyers are swapping solicitor. The reason given is that Saffron Building Society will only engage with solicitors on their approved list. Why would a leading mortgage company only deal with certain law firms?
Mortgage companies have always had an approved set of law firms they are willing to work with, but in the past few years big names such as Nationwide , have reviewed and reduced their conveyancing panel– in some cases removing conveyancing firms who have worked with them for decades.

Lenders point to the increase in fraud as the reason 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 being contacted daily by practices 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.

I do hope you can help me. My conveyancer is assuring me that he has to order a Local Authority search as the firm are on the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel. Do I not have a choice here?
You have limited options available to you. As you are taking a mortgage with Saffron Building Society your lawyer has to comply with their conditions as set out in their version of the CML Conveyancing Handbook. Your lawyer would have previously signed the Terms and Conditions of Saffron Building Society’s conveyancing panel appointment which obliges them to follow the CML Handbook requirements last updated Saffron Building Society. even if you were a cash buyer you would be ill advised not to carry out a local authority search.
How up to date is your search tool for the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel? Do Saffron Building Society send you an updated list?
The firms themselves provide us confirmation that they are on the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel as opposed to being supplied with a list from Saffron Building Society directly.
Can you clarify what the consequences are if my lawyer’s firm is suspended from the Saffron Building Society Conveyancing panel before the completion date?
First, this is very unlikely to happen. 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 for a fee.
Is it the case that all conveyancing solicitors on the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel overseen by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority?
As solicitors, in order to be on the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel they would need to be regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Many lenders do allow licenced conveyancers on their panel in which case such firms would be regulated by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
I have not been happy with the level or service received from my lawyer. Is there a Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel complaints department or do I complain directly to the law firm?
Complaining to Saffron Building Society about their conveyancing panel is unlikely to yield much of a response. Every solicitor firm and conveyancer must have a complaints procedure. You can get information from the solicitor’s or conveyancer’s website or ask at their office. They must tell you about it if you ask.

The Legal Ombudsman will make sure that your complaint is properly dealt with by the solicitor. It can also advise you how to complain.

If a licensed conveyancer does not have a complaints procedure or will not tell you about it, contact the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), which will make sure that your complaint is properly dealt with by the conveyancer. Please see below for more information.

It is not clear whether my mortgage offer obliges me to make sure the lease term for the flat is extended prior to the completion date . I have telephoned Saffron Building Society on various occasions and was told they are content with the situation and they would lend. My solicitor - who is on the Saffron Building Society conveyancing panel- telephoned and was told not they would not lend in accordance with their CML Handbook minimum lease term requirements. Who do I believe?
As long as the conveyancer is on the Saffron Building Society panel she or he must comply with the CML Handbook requirements for Saffron Building Society. Unless your lawyer obtains specific confirmation in writing that Saffron Building Society will go ahead your lawyer has no choice but to refrain from exchanging contract and committing you to the purchase. We would suggest that you ask Saffron Building Society to contact your lawyer in writing confirming that they will accept the remaining number of years left on the lease.