Moving House With Simplify Group? What Can You Do, Making a Complaint and Advice

Portrait of Robert Godfrey
Author:
Robert Godfrey
Partner, Head of Professional Negligence and Dispute Resolution
Date:
26/11/2021

On November 8th, it was first reported that the Simplify Group, which owns a number of conveyancing firms including Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers had suffered a serious IT system breach, leaving some of their customers concerned about their data and completion of their property transactions. We understand that other firms within the Simplify Group are not affected by this incident.

As of 25th November, Simplify Group has confirmed that most of its core systems are back up and running and they are now working on cases.  They have provided a form for clients to complete if they’ve not been contacted as yet.

We have been contacted by a number of clients of the law firms affected by this issue to see if we could help, so we thought it would be useful to provide some advice on what people can do. 

Step 1 – Wait to Speak to Your Conveyancer if You’re At Exchange or Completion

This may seem obvious, but if you are nearing either exchange or completion on your property, you are probably best to assume that it will happen as agreed. At this late stage, there’s little chance another conveyancer could take on your transaction quickly enough, so you will need to be patient and continue to remain in contact with the conveyancers and other parties in the chain.

Step 2 – Decide If You Want To Change Conveyancers

If you’ve only just instructed one of the affected law firms and you’re not nearing exchange, you could choose to move to another conveyancer now.  You would need to check if there are any additional costs involved before doing so – for instance if you are selling and your estate agent recommended the conveyancer to you as part of an overall package.  You should also make sure you understand what any new conveyancer will charge and how quickly they will be able to progress your transaction as they may need to begin again if documents cannot be transferred from your existing conveyancer quickly.  

At Simpson Millar we offer a variety of benefits to our conveyancing clients including fixed fees, no sale, no fee and a second set of searches free if your purchase does not proceed.  We would be happy to help if needed.

Simplify Group has confirmed that they will not charge for any legal work already completed and that any searches already instructed will be transferred to your new conveyancer once they are available. 

Step 3 – Check the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and Simplify Group Websites for Updates

Simplify Group is regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and they have reported the security incident to them and to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The CLC has published some helpful information for anyone affected and it may be helpful to continue to check their website for more updates. 

Simplify also continue to provide updates.

Step 4 – Complain to the Legal Ombudsman

The Legal Ombudsman is there is help people who have a service complaint against a law firm, usually once they’ve made a complaint to the law firm themselves and given the firm an opportunity to rectify matters. You should therefore give the firm a chance to respond to your complaint (there are set timescales for this) and deal with any issues you have before going down this route.

The Legal Ombudsman has set criteria to decide if you can make a complaint with them and to make this easier, they have a Complaints Checker you can use. It’s a simple way to check first and only takes a couple of minutes to complete.

Step 5 – If You Have Suffered a Loss, consider Whether You Have a Professional Negligence Claim

All regulated law firms have insurance in place to cover mistakes and the Simplify Group firms will be no different. If you have suffered a financial loss as a result of this cyber-attack, you may be able to make a professional negligence claim to get back the money you lost.

For instance, BBC News reported a client affected by this incident as being at risk of losing £65,000 if they could not complete their transaction.

It’s worth speaking to a specialist Professional Negligence Solicitor, who can give you expert advice on your particular situation.

Step 6 – If you are concerned about your data and want to know if there is a Data Breach Claim, seek advice

Every business has a duty to protect your personal data. Simplify Group has not has not yet said if data was lost as a result of the cyber incident, but there are some serious risks if your data has been exposed. Take action by reading our 10 Top Tips for Keeping Your Data Safe and consider speaking to a Data Breach Solicitor once you know how you’ve been affected by Simplify Group’s data leak.

Hopefully Simplify Group will get back to normal shortly and you can get on with your move as quickly as possible, but if you do need help and advice, our specialist Solicitors are here to help you.

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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.