By Rachel Williams
Law firm Marsons has pulled out of the bulk conveyancing business on the grounds that it is uneconomical, cannot provide sufficient local knowledge and places solicitors under undue pressure. It also believes that it will not fit in with use of Seller’s Packs.
Commenting on the decision, Brian Marson, chairman of Marsons, said: “As a conveyancing law firm we were into the volume business and were handling in the region of 5,000 completions a month, including remortgages. But during 2000, we carried out 500 cases a month using the Seller’s Pack and we came to the conclusion that quality volume business can only be handled on a local level.”
He added: “Local knowledge is now particularly important. Would all solicitors know that Yalding, a small village in Kent for example, was flooded three times last year?”
A lack of local knowledge was not the only problem with ‘factory’ conveyancing. Marson said: “We cannot get the staff, people cannot get through on the telephone and the stress levels for all involved are very high.”
The absence of face-to-face contact, coupled with a lack of local knowledge, means that this approach is also incompatible with Seller’s Packs said Marson. He added: “The Seller’s Pack means people will want to see a solicitor to sign the paperwork.”
In addition to his role in the law firm, Marson is also chairman at First Title, the title insurer, and in an attempt to get round the problems associated with bulk and conventional conveyancing Marson is merging the functions of each firm to develop Conveyancing Central.
The new group will be notified of all property listings from participating estate agents. Title will then be checked on screen, insured and then passed on to a solicitor local to the buyer.
In the space of two weeks, 300 law firms expressed an interest in joining the panel.
However, Legal Marketing Services (LMS), an internet-based conveyancing firm, stated that Marson’s exit from the market vindicates its approach. The company has developed a network of solicitors across the country who use a net-based system on which they input progress reports that can be accessed by clients on the internet.
Andrew Knee, marketing director at LMS, said: “Our system monitors the workload of all the 5000-plus solicitors involved so that we can not only locate a local firm, but also be sure that it is able to act immediately. Then, because we have invested in technology we can monitor progress without putting unacceptable pressure on the solicitor. It is a much more balanced system that is also very cost competitive.”