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Written by rosalind renshaw

The scrapping of Home Information Packs has claimed a belated – and very large – scalp.

Major national legal firm Fridays Property Lawyers, which described itself as the UK’s fastest growing conveyancing company right up until the end of last year, has gone into administration, with staff starting 2011 without jobs.

The company had its head office at King’s Cross, London, plus other offices and various partnerships in the UK, with Fridays Legal Services branded offerings in 12 towns and cities.

The Fridays service operated long hours over seven days a week.  

But staff were sent letters over the Christmas and New Year break, although one person who turned up at work on the first day back last Tuesday was shocked to find the offices locked and deserted.

The company specialised in conveyancing and was also a major HIP provider. Ironically, its HIP was singled out by Which? as being the cheapest, at just £189, some £300 cheaper than the most expensive deal.

The Fridays’ administrators are Begbies Traynor in Leeds, which released this statement:  

“Julian N. R. Pitts and David F. Wilson of Begbies Traynor were appointed Joint Administrators to Fridays Property Lawyers Limited on 30 December 2010.
 
“The company have closed down their operation following a period of rapid contraction resulting from the abolition of Home Information Packs.  The company initially grew rapidly as a result of its HIP offering and became reliant on HIPs as a primary generator of new business.

“Attempts to replace new business volumes proved unsuccessful in the current economic climate.
 
“We are working with the Regulator (CLC) to ensure that all live cases have been transferred and will be completed with no delay or disruption to clients.  Clients have been contacted and notified of the situation.
 
“Regrettably, the closure of the operation has resulted in staff redundancies.
 
“The website and trading style have been purchased by a new company. The site is in the process of being reconfigured to provide new services tailored around the currently troubled property market.”

The identity of this company has not yet been made known, and nor is it known how many redundancies there have been, but updates are expected.

As well as under-cutting its rivals on HIPs, Fridays also supplied the cheapest EPCs and offered the fee back if customers also took Fridays’ conveyancing.  It charged from just £89 for fixed price conveyancing, and said it helped thousands to move each month.

On its website, Fridays described itself as the UK’s most popular property lawyers, and said that it was recommended by 92% of its customers.

The company was set up in 2004 and headed by Simon Seaton and Patrick McIntyre. Last September, it announced the appointment of Tom Horrocks as head of legals. He joined from Ashley King’s Simply Property Lawyers.

Horrocks was previously CEO of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and director of Countrywide Property Lawyers, and senior lecturer in law at Huddersfield University. His appointment at the time was described as a ‘coup’ for Fridays.

Comments

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    More interested in cash than actually treating their staff and customers properly.

    • 18 February 2011 15:59 PM
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    I am sorry to hear about the staff losing their jobs, but not sorry to hear that Fridays went under. I worked for them for a very brief while and have to say it was the worst job I'd ever had. They were bulling and intimidating and had the highest staff turnover I'd ever seen. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • 08 February 2011 14:33 PM
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    Sure. You can ask Yvette Cooper of the previous Labour Government for a refund if you like. It was Labour's idea after all and you know how good they were with financial management and acumen!

    • 20 January 2011 14:07 PM
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    Can I claim compensation from the government now the home inspection has been abolished.

    • 19 January 2011 19:11 PM
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    Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of bosses.

    • 14 January 2011 08:03 AM
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    The sods charged me twice for 70% of my conveyancing and deducted it from my completion money just before christmas, so they're not just losers but fraudsters too!

    • 13 January 2011 15:30 PM
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    Most of the staff won't be sorry to see the place go under even if they are now unemployed. Horrible working conditions.

    • 12 January 2011 11:52 AM
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    What a charming and cowardly Christmas present. When will employers grow a pair? Staff should be told face to face with a confirmation in writing.

    • 12 January 2011 11:23 AM
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    Will Simon Seaton be speaking about what happened in his blog?

    • 12 January 2011 07:33 AM
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    I was using Fridays for a previous purchase and had such an awful experience that I chose an alternative company this time round. I didnt once get to speak to my solicitors and my sister experience was exactly the same. They want the £ but dont do any work for it. The saying you get what you pay for couldnt be more true. I am spending more this time but the stressfree ease in which my current solicitors are dealing with my purchase have made it money well spent. Awful company - glad no-one has to suffer anymore!

    • 11 January 2011 14:33 PM
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    One less house of exploitation gone in King's Cross.

    • 11 January 2011 12:06 PM
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    It wasn't HIPS that put the nail in the coffin it was a ridiculous business plan that was based on trying to kid the public that they would pay next to nothing for their conveyancing and then loading the costs with extras such as 'dealing with a mortgage' etc.

    If a business cannot be up front about it''s terms and conditions then they shouldn't be in business.

    Oh, and before anyone points it out, I know the costs were all in the 'small' print!!

    • 10 January 2011 15:03 PM
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    good, they where rubbish.

    • 10 January 2011 13:26 PM
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    Fridays were crap. This is an excuse. In any deals where they were involved they worked at their own pace, lost documents, were uncontactable and generally gace a poor service. You get what you pay for in this life, thank good ness they have gone

    • 10 January 2011 12:07 PM
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    mark@debbiefortune.co.uk

    • 10 January 2011 12:03 PM
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    Unfortunately they are likely to be just one in a long list of conveyancers who cannot see out 2011. Don't forget Ashton Morton Slack just last month. The market is oversupplied and current pricing is unsustainable. I also note that LMS have failed to file their accounts by the 31 December deadline.

    • 10 January 2011 11:53 AM
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    It's a mistake to think that it is scrapping HIPs that caused this. Search online and there are loads of complaints from Fridays Property Lawyers clients claiming they were ripped off by Fridays and paid, in many cases over £1000 more than they were quoted in legal fees and received very poor service with lots of mistakes. It must have been costing a fortune to compensate all the clients whose cases were messed up. Sounds like they have done a classic "pre-pack" leaving staff, clients, suppliers and presumably us taxpayers in the lurch.
    Fridays HIP price was never real - you had to sign up for conveyancing! But Which? fell for it and Fridays milked that at other HIP suppliers expense.
    I wonder who in this 'troubled market' the "New Fridays" company will target for their special brand of expensive and poor service next.

    • 10 January 2011 11:28 AM
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    There is of course another answer to this; the conveyancing they were selling was much too cheap. Conveyancing is a hugely risky and complex thing, to even market it at £89 was daft as it distorts the market. Traditionally conveyancers charged about 50% of the rate of agents and that's about right. underpricing slows down the process, it means lots of not returned phone calls, considerable delays and everyone's PI cover going through the roof.

    • 10 January 2011 11:22 AM
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    Spot on Ian. The words baby and bathwater spring to mind.

    • 10 January 2011 11:18 AM
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    I worked for Fridays and there no files currently being handled by Friday’s property lawyers in house. Any customers that were being handled by the in house team have been transferred to other lawyers. Fridays used to outsource the bulk of its work and these clients will be handled by their existing lawyer.

    • 10 January 2011 11:11 AM
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    It is very sad to hear of redundancies at this or any other time of year. The unfortunate thing is that during its period of trading Fridays was responsible for driving down prices to unsustainable levels and companies such as Pali who offered good products at realistic prices constantly had to justify their position. Pali are still here offering all the contents of the Hip as they did before Hips came along but for the purchaser. Searches, EPC's Anti-money laundering etc. Times are tough but with hard work, the right prices not gimmicks, companies can survive. Here's to a better 2011.
    Nick. Pali.

    • 10 January 2011 10:40 AM
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    It is misleading to suggest HIPs have claimed another victim. Actually it is the scrapping of HIPs with undue haste that has claimed all these victims. A bit more planning and a measured replacement with a better system would have been better for all concerned.

    • 10 January 2011 10:28 AM
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