Conveyancing Data Services and Personal Search – A Brief(ish) History
A brief history of Personal Searches and the pedigree that CDS have in this niche market of Searches.
Whilst most people in the industry will have heard of CDS and possibly even a little about those that started the company, I wonder if everyone knows the full details and the pedigree that we have in this niche market that we operate within.
Personal Searches are not a new thing, of course, in fact it was often the job of the Article Clerk (Trainee Solicitor) to wander along to the local authority and carry them out at their bosses request.
However, we have the booming housing market of the mid-1980s to thank, for allowing us the opportunity to create a new industry.
During this mid 80’s, the more entrepreneurial law firms realised that their Clerks we more valuable to them in the office, carrying their own caseloads and sought an alternative to the problem of lengthy turnaround times for Official Local Searches……and voila the Search Industry was born.
One of the first companies to take advantage of this need for faster search results was a company called Richards Gray, which was the first iteration of Conveyancing Data Services…..and so you see, we really do have a pedigree in this industry which dates back much further than 2010, which was when CDS first started trading.
Now, let’s take a step back again to the late 1980s and look at the early Personal Local Searches that were being produced and the problems we faced at that time:
Local Authorities really did not like us doing their job for them and made life difficult for us. Often they would restrict our appointment times, withdraw/restrict access to certain data types or even in some extreme circumstances refuse us all together.
Fast forward to today and we have spent all this time building some amazing relationships with most Local Authorities in England and Wales and so these issues have largely disappeared (although not entirely!).
What has helped this, is the realisation by the Local Authorities that they need to work ‘with us’ and the introduction of Environmental Information Regulations 2004 helped ease the pressure. These regulations effectively made it illegal for the Local Authorities to deliberately withhold information from anyone who wanted to view it and who was willing to pay, whether members of the public, members of the legal community or search companies like ours.
These regulations were amended in 2010 with a change enabling completely free access to the Local Authorities databases. The central government, at the time, decided the data held by the Local Authorities were in fact public data, that the Local Authorities were merely custodians of it all and anyone who wished to view it, for whatever reason, should be able to do so free of charge.
So here we are in 2010 with free and unrestricted access (well almost) to all the data we needed to be able to compile a Personal Local Authority Search, which contain EXACTLY the same data and an Official Local Authority Search!!
Let me just repeat this sentence…..a Personal Local Authority Search now contains EXACTLY the same information as an Official Local Authority Search.
It’s only taken 25 years of campaigning by the Search Industry to obtain this status, but we got there in the end, right?
The fight was still not over at this point however, as we still needed to gain the trust and support of the Legal Industry and Mortgages Lenders across England and Wales and so this would be our industry’s next campaign.
So, we set up COPSO (Council of Property Search Organisations) and developed the SEARCHCODE and later set up PCCB (Property Codes Compliance Board).
Let me explain further.
COPSO is our industry’s governing body and anyone who supplies searches to the legal industry should be a member of this organisation.
SearchCode is the set of rules, regulations and guidelines which anyone providing searches needs to comply with. The SearchCode is recognised by UK Finance, Law Society and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers as the gold standard in search production. These guys go so far as to confirm that personal searches can be accepted by the law firm so long as the producer of the searches is a member firm of COPSO and therefore complies with the SearchCode
PCCB is the organisation who sends out inspectors to member firms of COPSO to ensure we are operating within the guidelines of the SearchCode (some of them are scary people!)
So lets recap.
CDS Ltd (in one form or another) has been supplying searches to the legal industry for more years than anyone in the organisation would ever admit!
We are at the forefront of regulation setting in our industry and provide the very best of data and searches to all our clients.
Personal Local Searches contain exactly the same information that you would find in an Official Local Search….the legal and financial industry Regulators confirm and support this as being FACT.