Vendors stranded by Premier Property Lawyers’ outage ‘still in the dark’

Chris Brooks tells The Neg that claims from Simplilfy/PPL that its systems are back on track are wide of the mark.

simplify IT outage PPL

A member of the public who is mid-way through selling his home has contacted The Negotiator to highlight the ongoing difficulties caused by the IT outage at Premier Property Lawyers and other conveyancing services within the Simplify Group.

Chris Brooks, who is selling his home via national chain Hunters, says PPL’s recent claims that its system ‘have been restored’ is wide of the market in his case, a position confirmed by other media reports of stranded home movers.

He says the sale of his home was on track before the problems at the company handling his conveyancing, PPL, made themselves felt with the completion date in sight for the 18th November.

The first time Brooks became aware of the IT meltdown came when it became impossible to access PPL’s E-way portal almost a month ago.

Chris had tried to log-on after he had not received a response to a follow up-email from his conveyancer, Laura, only to be told several days later by her that she couldn’t access any of the files, emails or the case.

“On a call to PPL I was advised by an agent that news of a data breach was ‘media speculation’, and that if my data had been breached I would be called and informed,” says Chris.

“When I queried how this would be possible as the systems were down the agent was unable to answer.”

Subsequently, Chris liaised with Laura who said she was aware that ‘new enquiries’ had been received about the sale, but that she remained locked-out of the PPL system.

“I am now nearly a month further down the line and have no resolution in sight, as my case is not deemed a priority by PPL – ‘ready to exchange’ – so it is not being dealt with until all systems are restored, for which there is no timeline given,” Chris adds.

A spokesperson for Hunters says: “We sympathise with anyone impacted by this outage, which is frustrating for both consumers and industry professionals who are trying to move transactions along.

“We will be working tirelessly to try and pick up the slack once systems resume, however ultimately our hands have been tied by external issues thus far.”

Simplify statement

A Simplify spokesperson says: “Following intensive, non-stop work, by our teams and outside experts, we have now moved on from completing already exchanged transactions, and allowing those customers to move, to beginning to exchange contracts on files that are ready to exchange and complete.

“We continue prioritising those transactions scheduled to complete this week, we are also now working on cases that are nearing exchange of contracts, with systems in place to progress them through to exchange and completion. We also now expect almost all remortgage completions to be up to date and be kept up to date going forward.

“While this is still taking a little longer than normal, we have already exchanged a significant number of contracts and we expect the number per day to increase steadily as the capacity of our restored systems builds.

“We also remain up to date on completing transactions that have already exchanged contracts and we expect this to continue going forward. And we would also continue to assure clients that all money held by us is safe and is held in an entirely separate system unaffected by the incident.

“Over the coming days we will be gradually resuming work across a larger number of our active cases, on a carefully prioritised basis, focused on helping our clients to move as soon as possible. At all times we have been acting in the best interests of our clients, understanding how challenging this situation has been for them.”

One Comment

  1. Though no-one has confirmed it. I assume and it is only personal assumption Simplify’s problem was a ransonware attack and of course no one pays the ransom. The Law Society Gazette makes reference to an ongoing criminal matter linked to the present problem with Simplify.

    Cyber crime is a real headache, and maybe if this is the cause a period of introspection will be needed, together with a culture change and better systems to safeguard things moving forward. Despite all of this it is digital not paper that is winning at scale. And a company that handles 5% of the conveyancing market, will I am sure bounce back, bigger and stronger than before.

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