Originally launched in 2011 under plenty of idealism and fanfare, the CQS was created to recognise and increase standards in conveyancing. The Law Society is bringing in significant updates to The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) to further drive improvement in best practice, and client service. A breakdown of the latest round of changes and updates are below.

General updates and action:

Core Practice Management Standards:
 An updated Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) was released in February 2019 and was created with the following 3 core values:

  1. Members proactively and effectively manage risk and demonstrate behaviours that support and promote the integrity of CQS and the community.
  2. Members demonstrate best practice and excellence in client care through robust practice management of residential conveyancing.
  3. Members demonstrate thorough knowledge and skill in handling conveyancing transactions.

The Law Society has advised that “CQS members must familiarise themselves with the three values of CQS, published in November 2018, and the new Core Practice Management Standards which were published in February 2019 and make any necessary changes to their organisations policies, procedures and practices by 1 May 2019. CQS members will be expected to demonstrate compliance with the CPMS from 1 May 2019 onwards. Any applications for initial accreditation must also be able to meet the Standards.

Site Visits and Desk-Based Assessments: There is due to be a significant increase in Site visits to ensure firms can demonstrate compliance of the new updates. These are due to be undertaken by a new independent body that the Law Society is looking to onboard and will be announced in the coming weeks or months. They are also looking to implement remote desk-based assessments, in order to assess compliance of a larger amount of firms than ever before.

Reporting and Support: The CQS is looking to produce corrective action reports after visiting individual firms to help constantly improve their internal processes. Relevant information and best practice tips will then also be passed onto the wider CQS member community through updates. Additional support will also be provided with a revamped version of the CQS Toolkit which will be published in Spring to assist members with the new Core Practice Management Standards.

Some CPMS updates in more detail:
Within the new CPMS there are some updated existing requirements and some new and original of which a few can be found below. (Please note there are more additions than stated below and can be found on https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/accreditation/documents/cqs-core-practice-management-standards-feb-2019/). SDLT: Firms must have a policy that includes an audit trail of the SDLT calculation and advice, a procedure for verifying the SDLT payable and payments visible on the client ledger for the transaction. (Section 1.2 - Risk management)

Leasehold Properties: There will need to be a documented policy to ensure clients are made aware of the term remaining, the amount of ground rent and service charge and the review provisions and method of calculation. (Section 1.5 - Risk management)

Financial transactions: Practices which handle financial transactions must have a procedure that includes the transfer of funds, the management of funds received by the practice and details of how financial transactions are authorised. (Section 2.2 - Financial Management)

File and Case management: Practices must have a procedure for ensuring the SRA’s price and service transparency requirements are met. (Section 5.4 - File and Case management)

How can we help?
We designed a system specifically Property Lawyers that follow the key principles of delivering a service that: Helps Conveyancers handle cases as efficiently as possible, manages risk, and offers exceptional client care and communication. This system is called InTouch.

The core aim of The CQS is to provide consumers with a consistently high level of service that delivers client transparency and confidence in CQS members.

InTouch provides clients and any stakeholder with a portal and app which keeps them up to date with regular updates and documents relating to the case. This ensures clients have a clear communication channel with information available to them at a click of a button and gives an unrivalled level of client transparency and satisfaction. If you would like to find out more, visit the InTouch Conveyancing Case Management System