Solicitor members take charge of 42-year-old ESPC

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SCOTLAND’S largest solicitors property centre is to stand on its own two feet after member firms voted to take control of the firm yesterday.

The 114 members of the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC) will take over the management of the firm, replacing the Society of Writer to Her Majesty’s Signet (WS) and the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts (SCC), which underwrote the company’s formation in 1971 as guarantors.

The company is currently seeking a replacement for chief executive Malcolm Cannon. The new governance framework means that member firms are now responsible for appointing directors to the board.

In June, it was revealed that Cannon was leaving his role at the ESPC after four years to head up the Edinburgh operations of property manager Lomond Capital.

ESPC has been profitable now for three years, despite seeing the number of properties it marketed fall to less than half the 22,500 a year it offered at its peak.

Under the agreement reached yesterday, member firms will become £1 guarantors, although they will not be shareholders as ESPC is a company limited by guarantee.

Robin Stimpson, chairman of ESPC, said: “The WS and SSC were forward-thinking in supporting the establishment of ESPC and providing the backing and guarantees when it started up in 1971.

“ESPC supports solicitor estate agents in the sale and letting of residential property and with the company now in a strong 
financial position, the opportunity is being taken to enable these two societies to take a step back from their custodian role.

“The new arrangements will place control of ESPC in the hands of the solicitor businesses at the very heart of what we do,” he added.