Conveyancing complaints and fraud
The Legal Ombudsman has highlighted the benefits of good practice in handling conveyancing complaints; and the National Fraud Authority outlined a new approach to mortgage fraud
Conveyancing is the second most common type of legal service complained about to the Legal Ombudsman, members of the Conveyancing Association (CA) heard at their meeting last week.
Fifteen percent of the complaints received by the Legal Ombudsman concerned residential property transactions, lower only than family law.
Katie Leslie, senior projects manager for the Legal Ombudsman, was speaking at an All-Members Meeting of the CA in central London last Thursday.
She said: “Were the housing market in better shape we would expect to see conveyancing topping the list. Hidden costs and unclear rights and responsibilities relating to properties – such as the maintenance of footpaths or hedges – have the potential to alienate customers and lead them to seek the help of the Legal Ombudsman.
“Conveyancers who handle complaints well – from basics such as acknowledging complaints, to clarity and effective communication, all the way to a satisfactory resolution – will often find that it improves a customer’s perceptions of the firm and strengthens loyalty.”
Eddie Goldsmith, chairman of the Conveyancing Association, commented: “Even the best conveyancing firms receive complaints from customers. Our members take these extremely seriously and the Association is working on the development of best practice for this to standardise quality in customer service.”
Also at the meeting, attendees heard from the National Fraud Authority (NFA) about how the new National Crime Agency (NCA) will enhance the government’s approach to tackling fraud.
A new integrated intelligence sharing system that will be inclusive of public and private sectors will focus police and law enforcement resources upon the most significant areas of criminal activity and target organised crime at its heart.
Grant Sidey, senior manager in the NFA Knowledge Directorate, said: “Organised crime is diversifying and fraud is a less risky way for criminals to get their hands on hundreds and thousands of pounds than, say, robbing a bank.
“The private sector has a critical role to play in driving down mortgage fraud and helping us take action. The NFA can help private sector hubs such as the Conveyancing Association to share intelligence with other parts of the market and benefit everyone.”
Eddie Goldsmith added: “The conveyancing industry is crucial to the fight against mortgage fraud and due to our practices we collect a great deal of information that has the potential to help our anti-fraud partners even more.
“I am encouraged by the plans for anti-fraud under the NCA and we look forward to exploring ways to share our intelligence with the authorities and the wider financial services sector.”