New transparency rules
As from 6th December 2018, firms offering certain legal services will be required to publish price and service information on their websites. The rules apply to conveyancing (buying and selling residential properties) , uncontested probate for assets in the UK, motoring offences (summary offences), immigration (excluding asylum), employment tribunals (unfair or wrongful dismissal), debt recovery and licensing applications.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority insists the rules will give consumers the facts they need to make informed choices.
Price information must be presented in a ‘clear and easy to understand format’ providing a total cost or, if this is not possible, an average or range of costs. Solicitors will need to explain the basis of their charges, including any hourly rate or fixed fees; highlight any likely disbursements(payment e.g. court fee) and be clear whether VAT is included.
Clients must know what services are included for the quoted price and those which are not, how long the work may take and the qualifications and experience of those involved in the cases.
If done properly, these rules should raise client’s awareness of what is involved in a particular transaction and thus help to better manage client expectations. There is however, a risk that too much information simply provides more confusion for potential clients.
For those legal firms who do not have a website, they must still have the above information readily available in other formats for anyone who requests it, e.g. leaflets.
There is concern amongst the legal profession that these rules will result in the public focusing solely on price when choosing legal services. However, we at RJT Solicitors are confident that the most important factor people consider when choosing a legal service provider is quality, followed by price. We offer a professional and efficient service at a competitive rate.