Chancery Lane confronts Santander on panel membership

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The Law Society is to hold ‘urgent’ talks with Santander to address its ‘grave’ concerns over the lender’s decision to remove hundreds of solicitors from its conveyancing panel.

The move follows claims by the Law Society that hundreds of firms have been taken off the lender’s panel, even after paying a charge of over £100 to have their panel membership reviewed.

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Some solicitors who had received letters from Santander to say that they had been removed have since contacted the Law Society to say that they have received a further letter telling them that they are still on the panel.

Santander said that it reviews on a quarterly basis how many transactions its panel firms have conducted with the bank over the previous 12 months, in line with its risk policy.

It said: ‘The firms that have recently been removed are those which have not met our volume requirements and we will continue to review and manage our panel accordingly.’

A spokesman added: ‘Santander has adjusted certain cut-off points for determining the levels of business a firm has undertaken with a Santander mortgage and this has meant that some firms who were to be removed from the early analysis are not now being removed as a result of this review.’

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘We are very concerned about Santander's actions in reducing further the membership of its panel of solicitors. We retain grave reservations about the methods it is using and are concerned about the effects both on firms and consumers.’

He added: ‘We have contacted Santander, expressing these concerns and are entering into urgent discussions with Santander which we hope will deliver a mutually acceptable solution.’

Hudson pointed out that the lender does have an appeal process for firms who have been removed, which he said had been used successfully by some firms that have been reinstated.

He urged firms who have been taken off the panel to appeal the decision while the Society seeks a ‘more sustainable solution’ with Santander.

Hudson suggested that solicitors who have been removed from Santander’s panel in recent weeks should contact the Law Society’s Practice Advice Service.

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