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Law firm giant snaps up conveyancing broker popular with estate agents

O'Neill Patient has bought specialist Conveyancing Alliance from tech PLC ULS for £27.3 million.

Nigel Lewis


One of the leading conveyancing broker platforms used by estate agents – Conveyancing Alliance (CAL) – has been bought by law firm giant O’Neill Patient (ONP) for £27.3  million from parent company ULS Technology.

CAL is a broker platform that focuses specifically on the needs of brokers, volume estate agents and their clients, and offers conveyancing services from a panel of well-known law firms including ONP. Its most recent full accounts show it turnover £8.93 million, generating an operating profit of £2.4 million. It has 16 employees.

ULS, which also operates the eConveyancer platform, says it has sold CAL because, although it is an “effective but simple conveyancing comparison site for individual mortgage brokers” it does not “support the Group’s vision”.

The cash will be used to clear ULS’s debts and the remaining £25 million will be used to develop and launch a platform that will provide consumers with a new and seamless way to move home or remortgage and manage their existing home.

CAL is the second purchase ONP has made in the past eight months, the first being of London-based Cavendish Legal Group in March.

The company says it has ambitious expansion plans, with further acquisitions planned for next year.

ONPCEO Andy Scaife (pictured) says: “I want to emphasise the importance that we place on all introducers, panel managers, brokers and estate agents.

“We have worked hard over a number of years to build close working relationships and we intend to continue to work with all of our customer partners, across the industry, to provide the same exemplary service we have become well known for.”

Read more about O’Neill Patient.

November 1, 2020

One comment

  1. This is one of the more interesting deals in the legal market so far this year, with ONP stepping out from its traditional focus on fulfilment directly into lead generation. Perhaps a recognition by ONP that it needed to keep up with the other major PE-backed law firm group, MyHomeMove (MHM)/ Simplify, in acquiring sources of new work rather than just building capacity. I am not sure that there is a very clear strategy underlying the acquisitions activity of either group. They are under pressure from their backers to acquire, above all acquire! But that’s a bit like shopping on the high street during lockdown. MHM are buying up local law firm brands but how good is the tech being bought, the working practices, and above all the introducer relationships? ONP – which is very much an affinity provider (the law firm sitting behind the introducer brand) – is now making tentative steps into direct relationships via Cavendish and CAL. The acquisition of CAL makes sense but is panel management really the way the conveyancing market is likely to evolve when it cannot offer price transparency or uniform delivery quality? I can’t see the need for a plethora of local brands and presence, nor a panel management capability, to make a significant inroad into the national conveyancing market.

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