The Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme

The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices.

Launched in 2010, the aim of the CQS is to provide a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancers. It also aims to help stamp out fraud by creating a trusted community amongst conveyancing solicitor firms.

In order to qualify for the scheme, conveyancing firms need to achieve set standards for residential conveyancing practices. The CQS aims to give homebuyers and sellers a recognisable benchmark when choosing a conveyancing solicitor.

What is the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme?

The Law Society is the independent professional body for solicitors in England and Wales.

The Law Society:

  • represents and governs solicitors
  • drives excellence in the profession
  • provides services and support to practising and training solicitors,
  • serves as a sounding board for law reform

The idea behind the CQS is to give greater reassurance for everyone in the conveyancing process that the conveyancing solicitor can deliver the appropriate quality of service and level of insurance.

How does the CQS benefit conveyancers?

Membership of the CQS can help to minimise your practice's risk of claims and protect your brand's reputation.

Being part of the CQS shows that you have the expertise to deliver quality residential conveyancing advice, and you use standardised processes to recognise and reduce risks.

Consumers have long complained about the lack of transparency in conveyancing transactions. Most homebuyers and sellers are not familiar with parts of the procedure as they are rarely involved in property transactions.

Members of the CQS must keep their clients fully informed of progress in their transactions. They must also communicate promptly with other parties such as solicitors, estate agents and mortgage lenders.

One of the benefits of instructing a CQS-accredited firm is that they will readily be able to act for almost all mortgage lenders. The past few years have seen many lenders reduce the number of law firms on their panels, and buyers often find their lender is not prepared to instruct their preferred solicitor. This can lead to delays and increased costs.

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Does our firm qualify for the CQS?

To join the CQS, your conveyancing firm will need to prove that you:

  • have the expertise to deliver quality conveyancing advice for residential transactions
  • use standardised processes to recognise and reduce risks
  • educate clients about what to expect when paying for conveyancing advice

CQS accreditation will give your conveyancing firm greater access to lenders, as well as more credibility with regulators, insurers and consumers.

In order for a solicitor to attain CQS accreditation they must pass a rigorous test by The Law Society for Probity and Quality.

Probity looks at the law practice as a whole, its partners and other staff at the firm. The firm’s financial position, policies and processes, and its ability to get PI insurance will all be examined.

All CQS Solicitors must appoint a Senior Responsible Officer. For accreditation to be granted, his or her professional record will be examined. Once accreditation is granted the Senior Responsible Office will be the person to respond to any complaints raised by clients.

Probity also looks at other staff within the firm. The disciplinary record of the partners and relevant members of staff will be checked against the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulatory decisions pages.

Quality tests look at the processes and procedures in relation to conveyancing.

How much does the CQS cost?

Conveyancing firms need to pay an application fee and a membership fee to be accredited to the CQS.

The Law Society will send you an invoice when it receives your application.

Costs vary depending on how many partners there are in your conveyancing firm. The fee scale for different numbers of partners is on the Law Society website.

The application fee for a sole practitioner is £170 and membership fee £227. This comes to a total of £476.40 including VAT.

For firms with two to four partners the application fee is £283 and membership fee is £340. This equates to £747.60 including VAT.

Firms with more than 50 partners pay an application fee of £1,076 and a membership fee of £1,133. This comes to £2,650.80 including VAT.

How do you apply for the CQS?

To apply for the CQS your practice must offer residential conveyancing and be authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

You may need to amend existing policies or draft new ones to meet the requirements of the Conveyancing Protocol.

To apply for accreditation, your practice will need to appoint a senior responsible officer (SRO) and submit an application form.

The accreditation process takes about six to eight weeks.

How to get re-accredited

CQS accreditation lasts for 12 months. After that you need to pay a re-accreditation membership fee each year. These range from £238 for a sole practitioner to £1,190 for a firm with more than 50 partners.

You can apply to be re-accredited at least six weeks before your accreditation expires.

The re-accreditation process follows a three-year assessment cycle. Each firm will need to submit a full re-accreditation form at the end of year one.

At the end of year two and year three, you’ll need to complete an annual maintenance assessment. The assessment cycle will continue on a rolling basis. Once re-accredited, all relevant persons must complete mandatory training.

If your law firm’s CQS application or application for re-accreditation is unsuccessful, you can appeal against the decision.

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