Press release isued by SLAS on 9 November 2010:
SLAS have condemned the latest announcement by Lloyds Banking Group of cuts to its panel of Scottish solicitors. A previous announcement from Lloyds a few months ago indicated solicitors would be removed if not using ARTL. SLAS responded by arranging a seminar for all those who had not already signed up for ARTL.
“Now it appears that the true agenda was to reduce the panel which many had suspected was behind the original stance. Lloyds gave assurances at that time that this was not what was to happen. They said when they were bringing this in for England & Wales and that different considerations applied in Scotland. They were cowardly then and are bully boy now” said Secretary of SLAS Michael Sheridan. “That is a huge miscalculation by them. Strength of feeling is high amongst solicitors about LLoyds’s treatment of firms and their clients."
As a representative organisation our first concern is for solicitors who receive such a letter... Our practical advice is as follows:
1. We urge all firms to appeal. The letter from Lloyds Banking Group makes no mention of appeal but the press release from the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) confirms that there is an appeal. Unfortunately we cannot reproduce the letter that Lloyds wrote to LSS as it was marked "private and confidential" so we have not been able to see it nor have we received a copy. However we have written directly to Lloyds Banking Group for a copy.
2. Please advise John Scott of LSS if your firm has received such a letter and authorise him to share this information with SLAS and other representative organisations of solicitors if they request it.
3. Calculate the amount your firm have had on deposit with Lloyds Banking Group during the last 12 months and again give this figure to John Scott at LSS with the same authority to share this with SLAS and other representative organisations.
4. Call your bank manager of Lloyds or the subsidiary that you deal with and explain to him in forceful terms how you view their actions towards you and the relationship with your firm.
We also summarise here possible grounds of appeal:
1. Check carefully the number of transactions you have had with Lloyds Group to check their arithmetic. If it is over nine then you have probably been wrongly selected.
2. If you are a rural firm you cannot be expected to have the same number of transaction as a much larger firm or city firm, and you might want to point out the local area that you serve and how many solicitors are in that area and the detriment that will be caused by your removal from the panel.
3. You should mention the money that you hold on deposit for the bank as evidence that it is not just the number of transactions that a firm has but there are other parts to a relationship with the bank that have to be considered. The banking relationship is a two-way one and they must understand that and understand the repercussions if they remove you from the panel.
4. Tell them you have asked your branch manager of Lloyds or other subsidiary that you are dealing with for a reference and to write on your behalf to be kept on the panel.
We hope that these are practical points that may help solicitors in this difficult situation.
We are prepared to assist members with their appeal and we are prepared to assist non-members also on payment of our subscription of £70.00.
We ask solicitors to visit our website www.slas.co.uk for further information about the “Fight the Panel Cuts Campaign” and to join it.