I write to draw attention to what I suggest is the entirely unreasonable and unjustified refusal of Lloyds Banking Group to re-admit my firm to its panel of solicitors following a change of ownership.
I have practised conveyancing in Scotland since 1969 and held an unrestricted practising certificate since 1971. I was a partner in another firm where I was regularly consulted and instructed by the Halifax Building Society and the Bank of Scotland, prior to setting up my own practice, Stirling Dunlop, solicitors and estate agents, Hamilton in 1997. I was on the Bank of Scotland’s panel of commercial conveyancers from 1997 to 2001, and from 2001 on the RBS panel of commercial conveyancers. I also frequently acted on behalf of the Airdrie Savings Bank in relation to securities over commercial and domestic premises.
For the last 30 years I have been assisted by the same paralegal, and since the change of ownership we have employed another paralegal of 10 years’ conveyancing experience. Conveyancing remains one of the main pillars of the business. Throughout, there has always been in place adequate professional indemnity insurance cover, never less than £2 million.
Lloyds Banking Group has chosen not to share its policy regarding “panel membership criteria”, but from a previous telephone conversation the essence of its decision seems to be that the sole director in our new entity, Paul Gostelow, has no prior conveyancing experience. The 90 years’ combined experience of our conveyancing department seems to matter not at all.
Although now a consultant, and therefore employee, I still have a vested interest in the viability and success of the practice and am unlikely simply to walk away. I offered Lloyds an undertaking to notify it immediately should I cease to be employed in the practice, on the understanding that it would then be free to reconsider our place on its panel.
Nevertheless the bank declined to re-admit the firm, a decision confirmed on our request for a review, the letter simply stating “Your application does not meet our panel membership criteria and we are therefore unwilling to re-appoint your firm to our panel.”John M Stirling, consultant, Stirling Dunlop, Hamilton