Our solicitors aren't on the lender's panel. Is this a problem?

Our property lawyer Fiona McNulty answers your questions
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Question: My fiancee and I are buying our first house. Our solicitors have received the contract papers and we have been given a big bundle of papers to look through, so we are making progress. Our lender has contacted our solicitors but there is now a problem as our solicitors are not on the "lender's panel". Please explain.

Answer: When someone is buying a property with the benefit of a mortgage it is common for the buyer's solicitors to also act for the buyer's lender. There are of course exceptions to this. For instance, some banks prefer separate representation and may choose not to use the same solicitors as the borrower.

To act for a lender a law firm has to be on that lender's conveyancing panel. An application has to be made by the law firm to the lender to become a member of the lender's panel and there are strict criteria which the firm has to satisfy.

Lenders' conveyancing panels exist in order to try to minimise fraud and to ensure a consistent standard of service. Most lenders now require their panel members to be part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme.

Your solicitors could apply for membership of your lender's conveyancing panel, but if that is not an option your lender will instruct their own solicitors to act.

You may continue to use your own solicitors, in which case you will probably have to pay the lender's solicitors' fees plus your own solicitors' fees. It may be cheaper for you to use the lender's solicitors.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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