• 30/07/2012

Law Society to protest at Santander’s ‘panel cull’
Friday 27 July 2012 by Catherine Baksi, The Gazette

Hundreds of solicitors are to be culled from Santander’s conveyancing panel – even after paying the lender’s charge of over £100 to have their panel membership reviewed, the Law Society has claimed.

The Society said it would be ‘vigorously’ raising its concerns over Santander’s cull, which is based on the number of transactions that firms have carried out for the lender. The bank has 13% of the UK’s mortgage market. London sole practitioner Stanley Jacobs contacted the Gazette to say he has been removed from the panel after paying a £118.80 panel review fee in February.

Jacobs, whose practice includes litigation, accepts that he has not been doing high volumes of conveyancing over the past couple of years due to the slow property market. But he said: ‘I paid the fee, expecting that I would remain on the panel until next year at least, and feel that I’ve been charged under false pretences.’

He said he had complained to Santander, seeking a pro rata refund on the money he had paid, plus his bank’s charge for paying the fee by direct debit.

If the lender does not either reinstate him to the panel or reimburse him, Jacobs said he will start a claim to recover the money.

He said: ‘I understand there are several hundred solicitors who have been removed from the panel, so that is thousands of pounds they have taken from solicitors. It’s extremely cheeky.’

A Santander spokeswoman said: ‘We review on a quarterly basis how much business conveyancing firms have conducted with the bank in the previous 12 months, in line with our risk policy.

‘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.’