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One week left in SLAS survey on lender rules

22 February 2012

Scottish solicitors have a week left in which to take part in an electronic survey by the Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS) on whether it is time to change the rule permitting a solicitor to act for a mortgage lender and borrower in the same transaction.

SLAS council decided to undertake the survey in the wake of recent decisions by lenders such as HSBC to reduce the number of firms on their approved panel, while imposing additional conditions, as well as costs, where borrowers choose to instruct their own firm. The council wants to gauge the level of support in the profession for amending the current conflict of interest rules to remove the lender-borrower exception, despite indications that the Law Society of Scotland is not yet persuaded of the case for change.

Any amendment to the rules would have to be approved by the Lord President of the Court of Session as well as by the Society's Regulatory Committee, which has equal numbers of solicitor and non-solicitor members.

Nearly 120 solicitors have so far voted in the survey, with over 70% of those taking part currently in favour of change.

The poll also asks for views on SLAS proposals for modifications to the Law Society's policy in relation to disciplinary proceedings against solicitors who have committed breaches of the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook, which have so far attracted even bigger majorities in support among those voting.

Graham Gibson of Kirklands, Perth, who set up the survey page, said: "If we receive more than 150 expressions of support, this will be the signal for SLAS to start liaising with all interested groups and individuals with a view to lobbying the Law Society for change. If not, or if there is a larger number against the proposals, we will report back to SLAS council that there is not sufficient support for change."

Calling for more solicitors to take part, he added: "If you respond, your Law Society will be better informed on the strength of feeling of their members for or against these proposals. If you do nothing, your voice will not be heard."

Click here to access the survey. The page also carries responses to other questions about CML Handbook proceedings. Voting closes at 12 noon on Wednesday 29 February.

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