Conveyancing woes are continuing for some home buyers and sellers more than a month after an IT systems failure paralysed some of the largest conveyancing practices in the UK, the Gazette has been told.
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 incident is the subject of a criminal investigation.
The latest update on Simplify’s website states that ‘an ever-growing proportion of our conveyancing colleagues are back up and running on core systems and progressing transactions’.
However, over the last few days the Gazette has been contacted by anxious individuals in transactions allegedly involving Premier Property Lawyers.
In one case, parties for one property were due to exchange and complete on an agreed date this month. The seller spent £1,000 moving their belongings out of the property. However, the day they were due to exchange and complete has come and gone, and both parties said they have been struggling to get in touch with Premier Property Lawyers.
In a statement, Premier Property Lawyers said the run-up to Christmas is a busy time for conveyancers and teams were working ‘flat out’ to get as many cases through exchange and completion as possible. As a result, the number of calls and emails in and out of the business is higher than normal.
Premier Property Lawyers said: ‘If any party is struggling to get in touch with their counterpart at Premier Property Lawyers we would urge them to keep trying, using the normal email address and phone numbers they have been provided with.
‘We remain up to date with completing transactions where exchange of contracts has taken place and we are exchanging contracts and completing on hundreds of transactions, daily. Many colleagues are continuing to work additional hours in order to work through any backlogs of activity on their cases. We continue to prioritise cases, focusing on helping our clients to move as soon as possible, relying on other lawyers within chains also being ready to do so.
‘We understand that, despite all our best efforts, there has unfortunately been some disruption for a number of our customers, and we will continue to do everything possible to minimise any impact on them and prioritise their needs. We understand phone lines may still be busy, but our teams are doing all they can to respond to messages as quickly as they can.’
The Gazette was told that in terms of business operations, all Simplify conveyancing firms have now restored systems and processing capability sufficiently to enable home moving transactions to be managed from beginning to end.