A conveyancing giant affected by a major IT systems outage due to a ‘security incident’ is unable to confirm when normal business will resume, a specialist property law regulator has said.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) confirmed that Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers, which are part of the Simplify group, were the subject of a ‘security incident’ late on 7 November.

The regulator said it has been assured that all contracted completions due to take place last week have completed successfully.

However, CLC said: ‘The nature of the incident means that systems must be restored carefully to ensure their security and to protect its clients. The cautious approach needed will continue to shape the operations of the involved firms and will inevitably delay some transactions. At the moment, Simplify is unable to say when their systems will be restored to a degree that would support a return to business as usual. The circumstances also mean that the firms cannot currently provide their individual clients with rapid updates on the progress of their transaction.’

Simplify is now dealing with contracts ready to exchange, with the volume of work expected to increase as systems are restored.

For those who have exchanged contracts, conveyancers will be able to complete the transaction. However, clients can move to a different conveyancer.

'Clients who have not yet exchanged contracts with their seller or buyer must consider whether to wait to progress their transactions when Simplify’s systems are running again or whether to instruct a different conveyancer. The limited access Simplify currently has to transaction files means that they cannot currently provide files to another conveyancer. We are pressing Simplify to address this,' the regulator said. 

Simplify confirmed to the regulator that clients affected by the outage who move to another conveyancer will not be charged for work already completed by Simplify. Once they are available, completed land searches can be transferred to the newly appointed conveyancer.

Earlier this week, Simplify confirmed to the Gazette that client money was secure and held on a separate system unaffected by the incident.


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