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The CHAPS debate: This needs to be discussed in adult fashion

A riposte to Rob Hailstone's article: 'C'mon CHAPS, Don't be faized'.

Good Day, and a late Merry Christmas.

Sorry for the delay in replying to Mr Hailstone. Who’d a thunk moving boxes round an' pickin' up, an' puttin' down could delay a removal man like me so much?

Alas, I have been busy, as I’m sure any person reading this and working anywhere near the domestic moving market would understand, especially in the run-up to Christmas, which is when this response was penned. 

Quite understandably, however, EAT has a schedule and this was the earliest it could be published.

Thank you for responding, Rob. To cut to it, I shall ignore the completely pointless digs at me personally and deal with what little substance there is left, before again attempting to discuss where the problems really are for home movers with regards key release times.

Firstly, I draw a distinction between solicitors who practice conveyancing and licensed conveyancers, and I won’t be corrected nor apologise for it. There is a difference, and really, you should know that. So my language is/was deliberate.

You stated that ‘all monies should be transferred.....by 2pm’. This just does not match reality. A reality witnessed and understood by thousands of employees on a weekly basis. 

You are skipping past the point, without even seeing the point, and then blindly hurling yourself at the horizon to get as far from the point as possible. The time in the contract is almost immaterial once we’re talking about key release and funds transfer later than the stated time. 

In fact, for many, the time set out in the contract turns out to be a ‘best guess – let’s hope’; the date too became fiction for four of our customers in the last 6 weeks, as they were left homeless and us with loaded vehicles.

At this point I will make clear – what is being railed at primarily by me is a system that sees home buyers/movers – in the 21st Century no less – fail to move in before dark (yes, sometimes even in summer) after having sat in their car for hours on end. 

This problem does not just relate to ‘conveyancers’ (happy now, Rob?). It relates to every party in a position to have an effect. Hell, on Wednesday recently one of my crews waited two hours for a locksmith because the estate agent lost the house keys.

I digress, though. The point here was funds transfer, and more accurately the human part of this process, and the daily actions of all those for whom you have defended in such tub-thumping style.

See the truth of this, is that if a conveyancer acting for first in chain chooses to send funds at 11:30am the outcome all the way along can be horrendous. All too frequently we find position four, five or six not getting key release until 4:30pm, or even later. Yet in those instances where first funds have been sent first thing, say 09:00am, there is much less likelihood of a late time further along.

Would anybody reading this want to deny that it is highly likely they have known of a conveyancer who was in receipt of funds before midday, yet didn’t know, went to lunch at 1pm, came back at 2pm and only then had the client account checked? 

Come on, this happens a lot. In fact, and I promise this is true, I had a customer just before Christmas who at around 4pm had no key release, and no idea what was going on. His solicitor wouldn’t return his calls...again, sorry, but this isn’t uncommon.

You chose solely to highlight the time taken for CHAPS transfer. Yes, fine, sometimes it’s a while, but sometimes it’s four minutes flat but another 60 minutes before the receiving party checks the client's account.

And then another 35 minutes in total for a call to the estate agent and call to customer, and then 30 minutes to go and get the keys and get back...now we’re on for more than two dead hours for the home mover (and removal co.), and for what? Why?

Bear in mind, Rob, that the BAR (www.bar.co.uk) had this to say:

“This regrettable change is, in our view, ill-advised and does nothing to alleviate the problems that have existed for many years; rather it only serves to exacerbate those issues. It is also regrettable that we were not consulted as a key stakeholder in this process and we are making contact with the authorities to express our disappointment and concerns and in the strongest terms.”

The instances where we get to find that funds were sent two hours ago, and the receiving solicitor is ‘on lunch’ and nobody has a clue what is going on, is not in the tens it is in the thousands. 

We operate in an industry where approximately half of all firms charge an hourly waiting time fee from 2pm onwards, and have done for years – why do you think this is?

I could levy some charges against estate agents too, very easily. I can think of numerous instances where 40 minutes passes between them being told to release keys and actually ringing their customer. So this is not all in the hands of conveyancers.

Rob, your response downplays the suffering many people go through. Recently we had an elderly couple wait three hours before getting into their new apartment. They were knackered, exhausted.

How is this fair? You want to tell me that in the 21st Century this system cannot be modified, changed and/or adjusted? It can be. Very easily, it takes desire, and willing.

Instead, when offered a chance to really come out and lead by example, the voice your side of this process presents is one that ignores the problem in full and denies it ever exists!

Our customer, right now,(actually as I write this in last week of Dec @4pm) the one stood in an estate agent's office without key release because no funds are in, you want to ring him and give him the good news on CHAPS extension?

Thought not.

The crew moving him, the crew who have been sat outside the new home for the last 4.5 hours, all with young children, and a life. You want to give them the good news, that the next time a conveyancer wants a longer lunch, they can?

Your response could have taken the lead on this, and made me repent for the language I used. Your response could have proven me wrong.

It didn’t.

P.S. The problem with exchange and completion timeframes that you raised is also exceptionally easily fixed – and the fault here does not in the main lie with conveyancers.

*Matt Faizey is managing director of Midlands-based removal and storage company M & G Transport and is a former board member of the British Association of Removers

  • Rob Hailstone

    What personal digs Matt? Bit thin skinned methinks.

    Firstly, would you please explain to me (and others) your distinction between solicitors who practice conveyancing and licensed conveyancers?

    Secondly, the purpose of my response was to make it clear that there are many factors that result in late completions. In that at least, I appear to have made some progress:

    “This problem does not just relate to conveyancers.”

    “So this is not all in the hands of conveyancers.”

    And I am really grateful for you pointing out how timescales work in particular:

    “See the truth of this, is that if a conveyancer acting for first in chain chooses to send funds at 11:30am the outcome all the way along can be horrendous. All too frequently we find position four, five or six not getting key release until 4:30pm, or even later. Yet in those instances where first funds have been sent first thing, say 09:00am, there is much less likelihood of a late time further along.”

    40 years in the business and I had no idea!

    All joking aside, unlike me, you have all the answers so over to you Matt:

    “This system can be modified, changed and/or adjusted, very easily.”

    “The problem with exchange and completion timeframes that you raised is also exceptionally easily fixed.”

    When you explain to me how these issues can be easily fixed, and assuming your explanations hold water, I will be the first to champion and back you.

    P.S.

    “The next customer stood in an estate agents' office without key release because no funds are in, you want to ring them and give them the good news on the CHAPS extension?”

    I have had to make that call a few times during my 30 years at the coal face of conveyancing and as unpleasant as it was, never shied away from it. Fortunately, my clients have always understood the real reason for those delays and that I, their conveyancer, was not “a lazy feckless individual.”

  • Matt Faizey

    Good Morning.

    First, for any conveyancers, and you Rob reading this, I am not trying to tell you your job. I am aware however that there are people and staff (and possibly members of the public) that might read this. They might not actually have a clue how it works. As far as the public are concerned the overwhelming majority have not a clue how it all works, it could be magic, witchcraft, divine intervention, or just a job. Nobody tells them, and many only do this 3 or 4 times in their lives so they pay little attention.

    So, when I write I try to consider any and all who might read it. Moreover I will absolutely and always put first those who don't understand it.

    So, I am not trying to teach you and others to suck eggs.

    Protocols ; Thinking of the protocols set down by both LS and CA for example. Why can it not be that there is a widespread 'code of practice' that conveyancers could not sign up to that solves the issue of 'start time'? Yes, this is a simplistic 'first response' but how long do you really want this answer for now?

    Why can it not be that a code of practice lays down a requirement for how long a conveyancer has to acknowledge funds having landed?

    (here I will say that as I write this stuff I absolutely accept there will be a caveat regarding banking errors etc etc)

    All too often funds are transferred by one conveyancer, with no effort to then ring ahead or make any effort to speed the human element up and then the receiving side takes another 60 minutes before checking. This just isn't fair.

    There is a LOT that can be done by conveyancers. A code could mandate that once a conveyancer has sent funds they are required to chase through immediately to confirm recipet, and this, alongside (within the framework of a CoP) could also lead onto an agreed timeframe for the receipt and again, acknowledgement. Not too mention action by the receiving party upon receipt.

    All too often customers are told 'banks fault it took so long' and it just isn't true. The instances of simply - funds landed, next conveyancer on lunch so nothing doing for 90 minutes.. Its just too common. Or, as I personally witnessed - on lunch, in meeting, gone out, finally three hours after funds landed actually dealing with it.

    I am NOT 'conveyancer bashing' for the sake of it. I, and many others, know how it works and we know it can be better with mutual understanding. There needs to be a wider understanding from all parties, and better collaboration to 'fix' a system that just doesn't function properly.

    I had a customer receive a call from the EA at 4:15pm recently, saying 'congratulations, you can come and collect your keys, are you happy?'

    The customer went ballistic. 'Happy? Would you be f**king happy at this time?'

    This 'system', by the change to CHAPS has been granted the right to take even longer. So, what do removers now do?

    Do we have a 4:30 cut-off? An average home move will take @2.5>3 hours to have the customer safely, courteously and properly moved in. After this though the customer has a good hour or two of 'getting straight'. Is it fair on them that now they might sit in a car all afternoon, and then only move in, during the dark, and not even be finished by the News at Ten?

    Of course the perverse side is that the high up the chain moves are often £500k+ and larger than average, resulting in a likely timeframe of 4-5 hours to move in + the customers own sorting and getting straight.

    What of our staff, in our industry? Is it acceptable to have them go like lambs to the slaughter, moving the client out for 13:00 and then, well, sat, maybe for 5 hours, only then to finish work at 9pm having done a 14 hour day? In July, maybe 4 out of 5 days a week? They won't do it.

    There is a real, genuine problem brewing here.

    The current system is not broken. You yourself confirmed that. We know it. How come? Because when the right combination of conveyancers are involved, a chain of 5 is done and dusted by 2pm, just as you say.

    The CHAPS change, does not address the real issues. It does however now allow the faults in the process another 1hr 40minutes to be, like I said in the beginning 'even more crap'.

  • Rob Hailstone

    There is no excuse for the conveyancer who is not at their desk when completions are taking place. With the exception of illness etc. They should be all placed in room 101 and/or consigned to history.

    Part of the problem, in my opinion, is low conveyancing fees (sometimes caused by high referral fees), resulting in too many completions for the conveyancer (in order to reach their allotted targets) who don’t have enough, or any support staff.

    Even though I say it myself, in my day, I was known as one of the most reliable and efficient conveyancers in the West Country. However, my reliability and efficiency wasn’t because I could afford a good team, it was simply because I worked silly hours. More often than not, 80 plus per week. I did not see my kids grow up much in their early years and I now realise that everyone should strive for a healthy work/life balance. The issue of low conveyancing fees also needs to be addressed.

    Let’s hope the meeting on the 20th (which, due to recently receiving a hospital appointment I have been waiting nearly five months for, I can’t now make) brings some answers.

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    Matt - do please explain your distinction between solicitors who practice conveyancing and licensed conveyancers? (Be careful not to be libelous, but I would be interested to hear what you have to say)



    4.20pm is the current CHAPS cut off now I see, but I am aware of so many firms stopping at 3.30pm. So 6pm will mean 5.10pm? But the reality is that extending the time needs to be backed with a guarantee of specific timed receipt (e.g it will take 10 minutes) as I would be loath to send money after 3.30pm anyway, as goodness knows when the seller will claim to receive it. Imagine sending payment at 6pm...what use is that to a seller, nothing. Only 'receipt' is. And as likely is that the selling lawyer will go home. The 'gone home conveyancer' is an increasing breed.

    You might argue that fact of sending the money should be enough for a seller to rely on, but so too would an undertaking not to send it but to hold it to their order until the next day - the current system used for payments being unable to be made after close of CHAPS. Actually invoking the SCs to allow simple occupation is often too, which we find as successful.

    BUT - too many conveyancers are not trained in the undertakings procedure or are not confident enough to even be bothered to pick up the phone and care about people outside houses who are trying to work out a solution. Not so long ago, we had a conveyancer selling to us who called to ask us what to do for their own onward passing of the undertakings!!? A local firm to one of our offices too.

    My suspicion is that all this is a storm in a teacup and not much will change (i.e unwillingness to send money late in the day and thus losing control of it until the next day). By lose control I mean the reliance on the selling lawyer to acknowledge it.....which will becomne an issue, because....they wil ahve gone home.

    Watch for the increase in the 'gone home conveyancer'. 'The 5pm answerphone brigade'

    However, thankfully, only about twice a year we witness funds being unable to be sent by 3.30pm. And the reason is invariably someone did not secure mortgage funds a day early. There will be conveyancers now who read that and think, but I don't secure funds the day before!!?

    My solution? I don't think there is much of a problem to address. I do think many conveyancers handle their completions very carelessly, including (can you believe) not calling the other lawyer to even confirm receipt of the money. But those conveyancers are not just careless on completion, that is their typical working method. Its about undiluting who can be conveyancers and allowed to offer their legal services. Better legal training.

    Sadly nothing is on the horizon for that. Those at the highest level think the solution to improve conveyancing is to offer up IT portals and deal rooms. Ignoring that fact that a shoddy conveyancer is still a shoddy conveyancer with all the bells and whistle IT gizmos they can have.

    Insist on dynamic, expert conveyancers, and conveyancing quality generally will start to improve - and if you are a business owner working with conveyancers like that, you will suffer less stress, fewer deals will abort, and their quality can only help yours.


  • Matt Faizey

    Shall I presume that, here at least, I shall not find any acknowledgment, or empathetic response to the situations I highlight?

    Moreover, any sort of possible discussion of how to make this system work better for our paymasters?

    There is a problem to address.

    I shall extend the same offer here as I did to Smithers to anyone who truly wants to learn what the problem is.

    Come spend some time at our end. Come spend a couple of days with us. Talk to staff, customers too if you wish.

    You would not go away believing that there is no problem.

  • Matt Faizey

    Tim,

    Many (
    MANY.

    It's farcical at times.

    Unfunny though when it's 4pm and you watch a lady sat in her car, sobbing.
    Unfunny when you watch people go from elation to despair across the 4 afternoon hours....

    Unfunny when your staff are unable to finish before 8pm four out of five days a week in the summer when they have young families.

    These are real situations, happening every week, up and down the country.

    Denial won't cut it. The reason it will become an issue now is solely because this summer there will be many disaffected members of the public.

    At least by generating column inches our trade/sector can point and say 'it's not our fault, we said this was abad thing'

  • Rob Hailstone

    "Shall I presume that, here at least, I shall not find any acknowledgment, or empathetic response to the situations I highlight? "

    NO!

    "You would not go away believing that there is no problem."

    I HAVE KNOWN THERE IS A PROBLEM FOR DECADES!

    "These are real situations, happening every week, up and down the country."

    WE KNOW!

    "Denial won't cut it."

    WE ARE NOT IN DENIAL!

    "We have a situation where funds failed to arrive from the Lender on the day of completion. We had ordered it in plenty of time, and had requested that it be sent to us the day before. The Lender didn’t do final credit checks until the day they were supposed to send the funds. That credit check revealed an issue which delayed the funds.

    We were served Notice of late completion on the afternoon of completion, and the funds arrived with us at 3.46pm, which was a minute after our bank cut-off point. We asked whether our clients could go into the property on the basis of a licence and/or undertakings but were advised that the other firm in the chain would not let the clients in the middle go into their new house (which was empty) “under any circumstances”. It transpired that this was incorrect, and the other firm (who is a firm local to us and known to us well) would have let the clients in on undertakings and a licence in the circumstances.

    We sent the purchase funds at 8am the following day.

    The following morning we received a fax with a list of “losses” which amounted to about £3,500! This was the interest under the contract of around £65, as well as a small amount of mortgage interest, and a similar amount of late completion interest on the onward purchase. The bulk of the funds required were for several nights hotel stay (as the sellers removal firm had taken everything away to storage and couldn’t redeliver it for several days), £600 for clothing, £1800 for the seller’s lost earnings, and removals/storage/redelivery fees etc. My issues isn’t with the amounts (although they were outrageous and unevidenced) but with the fact that, I believe, under the contract all we have to pay in order to complete the matter is the ‘compensation’ required under standard condition 6.8 and defined by 7.2. We sent the £65 by faster payment at around 10am and receipt was acknowledged. My understanding is that any other ‘losses’ should be claimed via the small claims court after completion in the usual way, surely? My clients were held to ransom all day, with the other side refusing to release the keys unless they got all their money, and threatening that the costs would increase if it continued for a further day, as more clothes would be needed (one of the clients had an important meeting apparently and couldn’t go without buying another new outfit from M&S) etc. My poor clients, one of whom is extremely pregnant and was suffering high blood pressure and fainting with the stress, eventually agreed to pay £2,500 in full and final settlement, but appears to want to sue someone else for their own losses now." Bold Legal Group Member

    We see just of much of this as you do Matt.

  • Matt Faizey

    You still fail to actually address the concerns I highlight over the change.

    And never do I see an admission of fault over late key release times from conveyancers.

    How is it that when I talk aabout potential aand actual suffering by the pubblic every response from your side never addresses it? Or displays any concern.

    Re-read all the responses over this issue start to finish. Not one conveyancer or anyone else mentions the public once. Inc you.

    Its pitiful. I have repeatedly raised concerns of impacts to the public, you respond by whining about how hard done by conveyancers are.

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