The Equity Release Council has introduced a new Legal Forum, designed to champion the unique role of legal advice in supporting customers in the later life lending sector.
The Forum will evolve and add to existing legal standards in the equity release sector, ensuring they remain fit for purpose to safeguard consumers’ interests.
In addition, members will be responsible for anticipating and highlighting emerging trends relating to legal processes in the equity release market.
The expert committee consists of representatives from law firms within the Council’s membership including Equilaw, Ashfords, Boyd Legal, Enact, Goldsmith Williams, Adlington Law and Eversheds Sutherland. These firms represent both consumers and providers, ensuring the Forum has oversight of the entire legal advice process.
The Forum is chaired by Claire Barker, managing director of Equilaw and the first legal member to sit on the Council’s Main Board. She will report directly to the Board on all matters in the sector impacting the legal process.
As well as working to evolve the Council’s existing standards, the Forum will help to educate fellow legal professionals, financial advisers and funders on the critical role of legal advice in the sector.
David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “The Legal Forum will provide unparalleled insight into the role of legal advice in the equity release process, which will only serve to strengthen the Council’s gold-standard consumer protections and safeguards.
“The Forum brings together representatives of major law firms who have industry-leading technical expertise. It will not only be crucial in helping evolve our standards but also in educating the wider industry about the role of legal advice in delivering good customer outcomes.”
Barker added: “The Forum will not only help to educate fellow legal professionals and other key stakeholders about the critical role of legal advice in the sector. It will also provide law firms with a chance to influence and shape the discussion around consumer protections in the market. The long-term trend towards accessing property wealth shows that later life lending is fast becoming a crucial pillar of retirement financial planning in the UK.
“Legal advice is a cornerstone of the customer journey and I welcome the opportunity to help to evolve industry standards and inform the market from a legal standpoint.”