The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published the details of its investigation into a complaint made against the Law Society.
The complaint was made against a web page on the Law Society website which carried details of the organisation's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation.
Seen last November, text on the web page stated: "All Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme firms go through rigorous examination and testing to demonstrate that they have a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice”.
A solicitor complained to the ASA, saying they understood that the requirements to join the CQS did not involve any assessment of applicants' expertise or quality of service.
They therefore challenged whether the claims made were misleading and whether they could be substantiated.
On responding to contact from the ASA, the Law Society said that the purpose of the CQS is to provide a ‘trusted community of solicitors within the residential conveyancing market’.
The society said that the CQS accreditation mark acts as a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices.
It added that all firms applying for CQS accreditation are assessed by its technical assessment team and audited on an annual basis to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements.
All relevant staff within each practice are also required to carry out mandatory training modules covering key conveyancing issues and each module is accompanied by an assessment where a pass is required.
The Law Society said it therefore believed that the requirements for joining and maintaining membership of the CQS ensure that all accredited firms have a high level of knowledge, skills, expertise and practice, and that the ad was therefore not misleading.
The ASA has decided not to uphold the complaint and published a lengthy ruling to accompany its decision.
“The ASA considered that consumers would understand the Law Society’s claims to mean that it had conducted an in-depth assessment of each firm that applied for the scheme,” says the watchdog.
“We noted that applicants were required to provide detailed information relating to a comprehensive range of aspects of their operations. Information [that] was assessed by the Technical Assessment Team, and verified with third-party data providers.”
“We also noted that relevant members of staff were required to undertake training and pass multiple-choice assessments, demonstrating their knowledge of key areas of conveyancing practice,” continues the ASA statement.
“Based on the information provided by the Law Society, we considered that by passing the training, relevant members of staff would demonstrate that they had knowledge of key areas of residential conveyancing.”
“Overall, we considered that the combined requirements of the CQS were sufficient to demonstrate that accredited firms went through rigorous examination and testing to demonstrate that they had a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice.”
“We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.”