10 December 2008

CoPSO Welcome Private Search Exoneration

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO), the major trade association for the property search industry, has today welcomed the news from Birmingham City Council that it has completely failed to uncover any evidence that private search companies are using insurance to “short-circuit” the Home Information Pack system to save money.

In late September, Birmingham Trading Standards announced that an investigation had found that “HIPs falsely claimed that information was not available or answered questions... Officers suspect that private search companies are short-circuiting the system to save money.” The announcement suggested that private search companies were incorrectly using insurance to cover the use of incomplete data.

Commenting, CoPSO Chief Executive Mervyn Pilley says:

“The announcement is great news. Not only does it completely exonerate those private search companies involved, but also it gives lie to the spurious claims of special interest groups seeking to undermine personal searches in HIPs. Whilst we welcome the support of Trading Standards offices to help us drive out any ‘cowboys’ operating in the sector, it is important that the excellent work that the majority of the personal search sector is doing is under difficult circumstances is recognised.

“As the Council says, insurance is a necessary measure which helps to bridge the problem of incomplete data. That problem is one that I know private search companies want to see sorted sooner rather than later. There needs to be a long term solution to this. Instead of listening to the claims of those self-interested parties in competition with our members, central Government needs to ensure that local authorities are providing full and fair access to search companies to ensure that the use of insurance is minimised.

“Whitehall should sit up and take note of this news. We understand that their key concern is that HIPs are high quality products that add real value to the home buying process. . I hope that this announcement will confirm what we have been saying all along – that private search companies want to ensure that this is the case too. The Government should now take note of Birmingham’s recommendation that the public interest is best served by local authorities working with the industry to iron out any teething problems that exist. We are happy to be at the forefront of this work and are committed to driving up standards in the property search sector ”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors
  • The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) is the major trade association for the property search industry. Members provide a broad range of property search reports including local, environmental, mining, chancel repair, drainage and water data and undertake over 2 million searches each year. The membership includes water companies, environmental search providers, organisations offering local searches and the NLIS channels.
  • On the 9th December Birmingham Trading Standards announced that “We recognise that where errors in searches occur, fault does not necessarily lie with the commercial HIP provider or their personal search partners, as they are obliged to compile information obtained from reliable sources which may not always be accurate for reasons beyond their control. Means of resolving these problems are being explored with the commercial HIP providers and their personal search partners to try and reduce any margin for error” and that “Birmingham Trading Standards would state that it has not uncovered any evidence to support officers’ initial suspicion that 'private search companies are short circuiting the system to save money'.”
  • Brimingham Trading Standards full press release can be found online at http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?
  • Birmingham Trading Standard’s orginal release can be found online at http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?

For more information contact:

  • Mervyn Pilley on 01920 823261
  • Kate Nicholls on 07958 796238
  • Edward Gill on 07725 919167

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