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Bradford lawyer shuns banks in protest at industry scandals
Campaigning lawyer John Wilson, whose practice has six offices in Bradford and Leeds, has pulled out of working directly for banks when handling house transactions in disgust at recent industry scandals, including the LIBOR interest rate fixing.
He says until the banks clean up their act, his expanding firm will refuse to work for banks nominated by mortgage lenders.
Wilsons Solicitors, which has offices in Idle , Baildon and Wibsey in Bradford and three branches in Leeds, has also been pushed into taking its stand by issues such as mis-selling of insurance products and interest rate swap arrangements.
Mr Wilson, who launched his business 20 years ago, said such scandals has been the final straw and he had decided to take a stand.
In future, when acting for a house buyer, Wilsons will no longer be automatically prepared to work for the mortgage lender bank at the same time. If it insists on having one, the lender will be required to appoint its own solicitor.
The move coincides with a report by the consumer body Which? It showed that, five years since the credit crunch started, 71 per cent of people do not think banks have learnt their lesson from the financial crisis.
Mr Wilson, who is managing director of Wilsons, said: “Historically solicitors have worked with a lot of banks and financial institutions.
“This was because, in many respects, they deal with similar matters such as people moving house or wills and trusts. Both were regarded as equally ethical professions.
“However in recent years the reputation of the banks has taken quite a battering. A long list of unethical behaviour has been exposed resulting in them no longer being trusted by the public.
“As proud professionals we do not want to be seen to be working with such unethical partners. We therefore decided to reassess our work with financial institutions and as a result have distanced ourselves from them until they have cleaned up their act and regained the public trust.”
Mr Wilson does not believe that his stand will cost the firm money , but is prepared to stick to his guns even if it does. He said: “It’s early days but I don't believe this move will damage our business or cost us money. There is a growing number of people who are fed up with the way the banks have behaved and will appreciate and support our stand.
“There is nothing wrong with professional networks where they operate properly, but its become increasingly normal for banks and other financial institutions to pressurise people in the house buying process to use solicitors recommended by them because its in the banks' financial interests.
“Buying a home is the biggest transaction of people's lives and what they need is truly independent advice.”
Wilsons Solicitors opened its newest office on Westgate in Baildon in June and now has 50 legal and support staff.