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Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) by reviewing our frequently asked questions relating to the following categories:

Applications

  1. How is my application assessed and how long will this take?  
  2. Is there a deadline in applying for membership to the Scheme?
  3. What level of criminal records check do you require?
  4. Upon whom do I need to conduct a Basic Disclosure?
  5. What is meant by 'direct supervision' by a partner in the practice of residential conveyancing transactions?
  6. We had our lender panel membership terminated but the lenders will not give me a reason as to why? What do I put here?
  7. Our lender panel membership was terminated but was re-instated on appeal, do I need to include these details?
  8. I represent a large firm with many partners. Do I need to provide complete details for all of these?
  9. What if a member of staff is on maternity leave?
  10. What is the difference between Lexcel accreditation and the CQS?
  11. I am currently awaiting my Lexcel accreditation to be finalised. How will this be considered when we apply for membership to the CQS?  

1. How is my application assessed and how long will this take?

It is anticipated that applications could take up to four to six weeks to initially process due to the complex nature of the application process and the requirement to carry out checks involving third party organisations. If at any time during the process we ask for additional information from you, any time taken to provide the CQS office with this information will add to the processing time. See preventing delays with your application (PDF).

If during the process the CQS office does not receive a reply to correspondence within three months from the date of its request for further information, the CQS office reserves the right to cancel the Practice's application. Any new application by the Practice would require a fresh application form and application fee to be submitted.

2. Is there a deadline in applying for membership to the Scheme?

Applications for CQS accreditation can be made at any time. Applications will be processed as they are received and membership will be valid for one (1) year from the date of acceptance.

3. What level of criminal records check do you require?

For the purpose of this Scheme a Basic Disclosure is sufficient. Please see our applications page for more information.

4. Upon whom do I need to conduct a Basic Disclosure?

As a minimum all partners and qualified conveyancers within the practice must have had a basic disclosure within the last 12 months. We further 'advise' that all other relevant members of staff also have an up-to-date check.

5.What is meant by 'direct supervision' by a partner in the practice of residential conveyancing transactions?

There are varying degrees of supervision expected, depending on the level of qualification, competence and/or PQE of the individual(s) involved. You should give details of current arrangements bearing in mind that monitoring visits may take place at any of the practices listed.

6. We had our lender panel membership terminated but the lenders will not give me a reason as to why? What do I put here?

If this is the case then please explain here what action you have taken to find out the reasons behind cancellation of your panel membership. Give details here if you have received a letter from the bank or exchanged correspondence or telephone calls with them. For example, leading up to the termination of panel membership did you receive any correspondence from the lender that indicated that this may occur.

7. Our lender panel membership was terminated but was re-instated on appeal, do I need to include these details?

Please provide details of the date of removal, information on the reason for removal, date of appeal and any reason given for reinstatement. This will not negatively affect your application but gives us a complete picture.

8. I represent a large firm with many partners. Do I need to provide complete details for all of these?

If your firm has less than 10 partners, please include all in the application form. If your firm has more than 10 partners, please contact the CQS office on 0207316 5550 or email us on cqs@lawsociety.org.uk for guidance on those partners you need to include in the application.

9. What if a member of staff is on maternity leave?

If a member of staff is on maternity leave you do not necessarily have to inform us of their details at the time that your application is submitted with us. When/if those members of staff return to work, you will at that stage be required to inform us of their details, as you would for a new member of staff, along with precedent form of consent to share data.

10. What is the difference between Lexcel accreditation and the CQS?

The CQS is based on two main elements: 'quality' and 'probity'.

The Core Practice Management Standards in the Scheme, which are akin to Lexcel, are integral to establishing the quality of the Practice and how it is run and managed. In addition the CQS explores the probity of the practice and the individuals in some detail.

The 'probity' element of the CQS is vitally important and is where the Scheme is fundamentally different to Lexcel.

Lexcel is and will remain a recognisable symbol of quality within law practices. For this reason if your practice is already Lexcel accredited, then you will passport through the section of the application form which refers to Core Practice Management Standards and only be asked to complete more general information about the practice and the individuals that operate within it.

11. I am currently awaiting my Lexcel accreditation to be finalised. How will this be considered when we apply for membership to the CQS?

If your practice is in the process of being assessed for Lexcel accreditation then you should notify us of this on the form where it asks if you have Lexcel accreditation. We will then liaise with the Lexcel office. You should still submit your application but would be required to complete details of Core Practice Management Standards as a non Lexcel accredited firm. If your firm gains Lexcel accreditation during the application process we will be notified and it will be taken into account.

Membership

12. How do I become a member of the scheme?

Complete the application form and send with supporting documentation to the CQS unit at the Law Society.

Please make sure that the forms are filled in as accurately as possible so that we can process your forms as efficiently as possible.

Specifically, where the application is asking for dates, please ensure that you provide the full date ie day, month and year. Please do not leave mandatory fields in the application form blank. If you do not provide the information in full, it will delay the application as we will then need to write to you asking for clarification on those outstanding matters.

Please note that can you can download the scheme rules (PDF).

Visit our applications page for further information.

13. How long is my membership valid for?

Membership to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme is for one year from the date of registration as a member. Every year you must renew your scheme membership.

14. How do I renew my membership?

The process for renewing your membership is called reaccreditation. Reaccreditation is a way of assuring consumers and key stakeholders that members of the CQS always meet the requirements for membership.

For more information on reaccreditation please visit our reaccreditation page.

15. Are there any additional resources?

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme Toolkit is available and helps firms meet the Core Practice Management Standards.

16. What does an accredited firm have to do if an employee is leaving or joining the firm?

In respect of an individual joining an accredited firm, the firm will need to complete the relevant personnel section of the new starter form (found on our accredited practices page) and complete the required checks in respect of the new employee dependant on their role (please consult the guidance notes for further information as to what checks are required). The accredited firm will then need to send in this information to the CQS office within 30 days of the person starting employment at the practice, inline with the practice agreement. Please see on our accredited practices page for more information on starters and leavers.

The accredited firm will also need to confirm the date the employment began. Confirmation as to the continuation of membership will be given to the firm within 30 days of receipt of all the required information about the individual including appropriate checks.

In respect of an employee who has left the firm, the firm need to confirm to the CQS office the name of the individual concerned, the position they held and the date they left the firm. The accredited firm should confirm this in writing (by email or post) within 30 days of the individual having left the firm's employment.

Please note that if the senior responsible officer and/or the head of Conveyancing leaves the firm, a corresponding application for their replacement (using the process above) should be made.

Again, confirmation as to the continuation of membership will be given to the firm within 30 days of receipt of the information given.

17. I am the SRO of the practice under the Scheme. Having carried out basic identification checks I have reason to be suspicious of one employee's passport/driving licence? What more do I have to do?

Under the Scheme you are required to undertake as much due diligence as you deem necessary to determine that the identification for those members of staff identified in the Scheme are authenticated and verified.

If a check you have carried out leads you to be suspicious you must take further action until the point where you are fully satisfied that the person you have employed is who they claim to be. False passport/driving licences are a matter for the police.

No changes will be accepted to the terms of the declaration as set out in the CQS application. If any changes are made to the form of declaration when it is submitted to the CQS office then the form will be returned to the practice. A new form will need to be completed. The agreement is intended to be a binding declaration.

19. Will CQS membership guarantee acceptance on to lenders panels?

CQS membership will not guarantee acceptance on to lenders panels. However the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) have indicated that it is likely to become a pre-requisite for firms wishing to join/remain on their panels. Our objective is to establish objective criteria for the management of admission and maintenance of lenders panel and to maximise the opportunities for open panels, or panels that are open as possible.

20. When do I need to start using the Protocol?

The Protocol is on our accredited practices page. It is a requirement of the Scheme for all member practices to comply with the Conveyancing Protocol as soon as they join the scheme.

21. Who at the Law Society is responsible for making sure that those who are accredited are keeping to the standard levels?

There will be a pool of trained assessors that will visit Practices to ensure compliance with the protocol, the CPMS and that practices are providing the correct information to the Law Society. We will also operate offsite assessments which may entail contacting practices and asking for them to supply us with evidence of its policies and procedures.

Training

22. What training will I have to undertake?

All relevant staff named in a new application or upon joining an existing practice should complete:

  • CQS Core – Introduction
  • CQS Core – Protocol in Practice
  • CQS Core – Risk and Compliance

Senior Responsible Officers in newly accredited practices and newly nominated SROs must need also undertake:

  • CQS – Role of the Senior Responsible Officer
    CQS Core training and the SRO training are available from the Professional Development Centre.
    Qualified and unqualified conveyancers named in an application form for re-accreditation with the CQS must complete the CQS Update training within six months of the practice being awarded re-accreditation.

These Update training courses will be revised every year. The latest revision took place in December 2016.

  • CQS – Risk and Compliance: 2016 Update
  • CQS – Conveyancing Practice: 2016 Update
     

23. Where can I find out more about the online training courses?

You can find out more about online training courses from the Law Society's Professional Development Centre.

24. What is optional training?

Optional training has been designed to help your practice, but it is not mandatory. One such course is the CQS – Core Practice Management Standards. This course will help you to understand the requirements of the CQS in relation to management standards, and what is covered by the CPMS. It is available from the Professional Development Centre.

25. Do I need to purchase the training for each relevant individual?

Yes. Each assessment is designed for individuals to complete and each individual will be issued with a final score. You cannot purchase one copy of the course for multiple individuals to use.

26. How can I purchase the courses? How can I purchase access for multiple individuals?

You should phone the Professional Development Centre on 020 7320 5978 or email pdc@lawsociety.org.uk.

27. Are these courses a one-off purchase or will the practice be expected to do this every year?

As a condition of re-accreditation every 12 months, the conveyancers in your practice must take four hours of our online CQS Update training, available from the Professional Development Centre.

28. How long do I have to complete the courses?

You have six months from the date that your practice is accredited or re-accredited to complete your training. Failure to complete the mandatory training will result in the CQS accreditation being revoked.

29. I am experiencing technical difficulties with my course, who do I contact?

You should phone the Professional Development Centre on 020 7320 5978 or email pdc@lawsociety.org.uk.

30. We have a new member of staff in the practice but have obtained our accreditation and satisfied our training requirements. Are they also expected to do the training?

All relevant staff members who join your practice must undertake the relevant training within six months of joining your practice.

31. I no longer wish to be accredited under the CQS scheme, do I get a refund for my courses?

If a practice withdraws from the Scheme, then the application fee is retained and a proportionate part of the membership fee will be refunded to the practice.

32. How much does membership cost?

See costs associated with this scheme.

33. Is the application fee for the Scheme based on the number of partners that practise residential conveyancing within the practice?

No. The application fee is based on the total number of partners within that practice.

A qualified or unqualified conveyancer who joins you practice must take the CQS Core training within six months of joining your practice.

If they are named in your practice’s application for re-accreditation, they must also take four hours of CQS Update training.

If you can not find the answer to your query in our FAQs, or guidance notes, please contact the Conveyancing Quality Scheme Unit:
Email: cqs@lawsociety.org.uk
Phone: 020 7316 5550

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