The Law Society’s technology partner in online conveyancing portal Veyo may temporarily be regretting adopting the catchphrase on its website: “In the news: for all the right reasons.”
The Law Society and Mastek both announced yesterday (3 December) that, following a review of Veyo by Legal Practice Technologies (LPT) – the vehicle set up to deliver the online portal – both parties to the venture have decided against any further investment.
The full scale of the monies spent to date on the failed project are still being calculated but, according to the Law Society’s annual report for 2014, the body invested £600,000 in LPT in May 2014 in consideration for a 60% shareholding in the newly-formed company, with the minority shareholding being held by Mastek (UK) Limited.
However, the accounts for that year also show that during 2014, The Law Society made “purchases” of £2,667,650 from Mastek, bringing the total money spent to date on the project to well over £3m.
The accounts also show a loan of just over £1.7m made by Mastek into LPT. The sum is a non-interest bearing unsecured loan with no set repayment date, repayment is however scheduled to take place between 2017 and 2019.
Mastek’s accounts show that in the first two quarters of 2015 its “share of the losses” in relation to LPT were a total of around £534,000; a sum that has been converted from Indian Rupees in the accounts and may be subject to variation.
Veyo was supposed to launch this year and charge £20 per transaction but in the interim, free conveyancing portal Free2Convey was launched by Legal Software Suppliers Association. The statement from the Law Society yesterday said: “New providers have committed to bring free products to market within case management software to deliver LTP’s vision for e-conveyancing. Case management providers are developing products such as Free2Convey, adding value to their existing offer and we welcome any development which means that conveyancing can be done more effectively.”
The Law Society added: “It is with considerable regret that we are announcing that we will not be making any further investment in Veyo. Other software providers operating in the conveyancing market are responding to our members’ needs and so we have decided to step back. We are committed to identifying unmet member need and innovation, but on this occasion we also have recognised the reality that the market has developed significantly since we started to develop Veyo and that the costs of continuing outweigh the benefit to our members.
“We have made the very difficult decision not to invest further in light of developments in the market which mean that case management providers are likely to meet our members’ needs at no additional cost.”
Mastek’s group CEO and managing director Sudhakar Ram said in a separate statement: “This was a hard decision to take, but is commercially the right one for all of us. We are pleased to have been involved in this partnership with the Law Society.
“In line with Mastek’s conservative accounting policy, losses in LPT have already been written off in our consolidated financial statements till September, 2015. The additional financial impact will be restricted to the regular expenses and wind down charges incurred during this quarter, netted off against Mastek revenues from the JV for the quarter. The actual impact, which is not likely to be significant, is being worked out and will be presented along with our Q3 results.”
LSSA chairman, Matt Lancaster commented: “We have always believed that healthy competition achieves the best results in any software development market and this certainly applies to legal software. We agreed with the core objectives of Veyo and the LSSA has worked consistently to be at the cutting edge of supplying the best IT to the legal profession. This is the green light for the LSSA through Free2Convey to continue its work with the conveyancing profession. We welcome input and co-operation from all parties and it’s now time to establish Free2Convey as the central conveyancing portal to meet the needs of all stakeholders in property transactions.”