The personal search industry are up in arms and have hit back furiously at suggestions this week that official local authority searches should be made compulsory in all house sales. The proposal came from the chief executive of Land Data, which facilitates the online availability of official local authority searches. The National Search Service said the intervention of Land Data is both untimely and unwarranted, Personal searches have been used for over 20 years, and even before HIPs were brought in, 40% of the market used them and were completely happy. Lawyers chose to use these searches as opposed to those supplied by a local authority as they provided a cheaper and often faster service. Recent decisions by the Information Commissioner’s office have meant local authorities must now supply search companies with all the data they require free of charge The National Search Service welcomes these changes and we welcome the scrapping of HIPs as they were being used as a rather large stick with which to beat search companies down on price. This inevitably led to quality issues with some less scrupulous search companies providing a poor product. Hopefully, law firms will now use the knowledge and experience to work only with the reputable providers, and the ultimate winner will be the consumer who will receive the right search at the right time for the right price. Land Data also seems to want to ignore OFT advice that the personal search industry provides important competition to local authorities. If personal searches were to be scrapped it would mean the return to the days when search prices in some areas were £200–300 and they would only be turned around in five to six weeks. Certainly this would have real repercussions within the property market as often personal searches are relied upon by solicitors to speed up the conveyancing process. The private search industry has long provided a reliable and effective service to people buying and selling homes. Taking the self-interested advice of Land Data and consolidating all property searches within local authorities would not only create an unhealthy and potentially illegitimate monopoly, but ultimately undermine the quality of search output. The speed, quality and cost of property searches produced by local authorities vary wildly, but the fact is, in most instances they simply take longer to produce. Without the competition in the market from the private sector, efficiency and accuracy in search information would be significantly impeded. With 95% of searches carried out by private search companies rather than eradicate a valuable and independent private search industry the Land Data would be better to consider the service that the private search industry offers to people buying and selling homes in the UK.