Fraud: Time for legal to 'man-up'

Fraud: Time for legal to 'man-up'




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The Conveyancing Association (CA) are calling on both solicitor and licensed conveyancing firms to step up and tackle fraud head on.

According to the Chairman of the Association, Eddie Goldsmith, conveyancers are in an optimum position to reduce fraud, as it is often extended through the legal practices which they are involved in. Those who don't take action, he said, were at risk of 'unwittingly causing such threats'. 

In a statement, Mr Goldsmith referred to recent research which suggested that lenders are increasingly removing conveyancing firms from their panels, in a direct attempt to reduce fraud.

He said: “The CA believes that the industry needs to recognise that we don’t have a divine right to be on lenders’ panels and therefore need to accept that lenders must manage their risks to reduce fraud. We understand and respect that lenders will only want to work with conveyancers who offer a superior service, can demonstrate high quality standards, competence and probity of staff, financial stability, and good management of staff and administrative processes.

“The issue of mortgage fraud isn’t going to disappear overnight and no-one is naive enough to believe it can be fully eradicated. However, the CA and its members are committed to working with brokers and lenders to improve the situation.”

Jonathan Newman, of Brightstone Law LLP, said: “Solicitors owe a duty of care to lending organisations to carry out their service competently.

“Running alongside this the Solicitors Regulation Authority are introducing wholesale changes to the way solicitors conduct their activities, with money laundering and fraud being key areas of concern. So solicitors have both a legal duty and disciplinary incentive for putting into place processes which deal with this hot topic.”

Mr Goldsmith believes that further culls of conveyances from lender panels are likely to occur. The firms at risk will be those who are unable to demonstrate that they have taken relevant procedures to minimise mortgage fraud.
 
He added: “If our industry works together to raise standards and improve due diligence, this will go a long way in building the confidence of lenders and consumers in the integrity of services provided by the profession.”

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