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Police probe conveyancing cyber-crash as it begins third week

The police have been called in to investigate the ongoing cyber-security incident which has led to many firms in the Simplify Group being unable to process house moves in the usual way and at the expected speed.

Leicestershire Police force says: "[We have] received a report of a security incident and officers are working with the victim to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

The presence of the police has prompted further speculation that the company has been the subject of a ransomware attack, with the ransom so far unpaid - but there has been no confirmation whatsoever about this.   


Estate Agent Today yesterday attempted to get the latest statements regarding the police investigation from Simplify Group and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers; no responses have yet been received. 

Simplify is believed to have chosen not to comment about the police investigation as it is ongoing, but on its website its latest update for agents and other users says: “Further progress has been made to restore a wider range of the systems needed to support normal operations after the recent security incident. Following intensive, non-stop work, by our teams and outside experts, we have now moved on from completing already exchanged transactions, and allowing those customers to move, to beginning to exchange contracts on files that are ready to exchange and complete.

“We continue prioritising those transactions scheduled to complete this week, we are also now working on cases that are nearing exchange of contracts, with systems in place to progress them through to exchange and completion. While this is still taking a little longer than normal, we have already exchanged a significant number of contracts and we expect the number per day to increase steadily as the capacity of our restored systems builds. 

“We also remain up to date on completing transactions that have already exchanged contracts and we expect this to continue going forward. We also now expect almost all remortgage completions to be up to date and be kept up to date going forward.”

Simplify says it can assure all clients that all money held by the company is safe and kept in an an entirely separate system unaffected by the incident.

Estimates indicate that five per cent of all residential transactions in the UK now use Simplify Group brands which include JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers as well as Premier Property Lawyers.

There has been growing anger on social media from consumers whose house moves have been affected by the problem - which started back on November 7 - with much of the criticism aimed at agents as well as Simplify Group brands specifically and conveyancers generally. 



Rob Hailstone, chief executive of the Bold Legal Group, told Estate Agent Today last evening: “ As conveyancing and conveyancers are now in the spotlight we should all (individually and as a collective) take this opportunity to consider the consumer. There are lots of comments being posted on social media, not just about the issues with Simplify and the firms involved, but about the buying and selling experience as a whole. 

“Generally, chain details were sparse and very few people had received any information about the home buying and selling process (from any agent or any conveyancer), despite the fact that these guides are freely available: Help to Buy Guide and How to Sell."

  • Matt Faizey

    “Generally, chain details were sparse and very few people had received any information about the home buying and selling process (from any agent or any conveyancer), despite the fact that these guides are freely available: Help to Buy Guide and How to Sell."
    Highlighting how poor the service is and how lacking in empathy or concern for the mental well being of their cliets they are. Moreover how little effort is being put in to ensure clients enjoy and understand the experience. I agree it's woeful, unprofessional and offers little value.

    I'm glad you're highlighting it Rob .

  • Rob Hailstone

    Always have said their should be more chain details etc Matt, but 100% don't agree with your stuck record of: "lacking in empathy or concern for the mental well being of their clients".

  • Matt Faizey

    And I don't agree with your subtle insinuation that because leaflets exist on the internet clients should be blamed for not educating themselves.

    Unless I'm wrong and you're suggesting it's bad practice that conveyancers are not ensuring they've sent the info to clients and assisted them in interpreting and understanding it?

    Strangely though, either outcome indicates a lack of empathy.

  • Rob Hailstone

    You really will read into something what you want to see Matt, and then twist it to suit your needs.

    No "subtle insinuation" on my part (intended or otherwise). Agents and conveyancers should be pointing clients in the direction of the guides.

    I have work to do, have a nice, happy, day.

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    As a technologist I am used to scenario planning for attacks like this...however no amount of planning will get you ready for the real thing. My heart goes out to all affected....from buyers, sellers, conveyancers and the technical teams!

  • icon

    I have read a lot of crocodile tears from people who keep saying "there but for the grace of God go I". Yet these were the same people who at the end of the SDLT holiday were coming out with comments bemoaning the long delays in matters progressing etc etc.
    A lot of unintelligible gibberish has been spouted by the usual suspects elsewhere so I will not say anything here which will get me called a dinosaur or troll (i am not, look it up). Though the most important point of the whole debacle has to me been missed, which is why I have approached proper journalists to get together some facts which will see the whole scandal this issue highlights brought into more public focus. I care passionately about conveyancing and do not want to head into retirement next year thinking this was the straw which broke the camel's back and was the day conveyancing died.
    We have the chance to do a root and branch overhaul of the whole system based on what has come to light in the last few weeks which showed the way these firms operate to be even more rotten than suspected. Clearly the CLC want to sweep the whole episode under the carpet which doesn't surprise anyone, so I would like to think there will be a proper enquiry at a much higher level which will give conveyancing a chance to be returned to the professionals again.
    We cannot continue allowing law firms to be run by non-professionals, referral fees to create huge chains where one firm is acting (the CLC should have already looked into their ludicrous policy of allowing the same firm to act on either side of a transaction, any proper conveyancer will tell you it cannot be done without creating a conflict of interest), and outsourcing to other continents, amongst many other things. None of it, as has been proved, is in the best interests of clients. Unfortunately these firms lost sight of that in the race to the bottom, and this is what happens.

  • Matt Faizey

    Amen to that


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