In December 2018, new transparency rules will come into effect in the legal industry. The new transparency rules are expected to meet the demands of the Competition and Markets Authority, who identified consumer information as a weakness in this sector.
The price transparency rules will affect costs for residential conveyancing, probate, employment tribunals, motoring offences and immigration.
New transparency rules
Legal firms must publish a displayed price for their service, and include any services not part of the price that might reasonably be expected to be included. If VAT is applicable, this too must be mentioned in a clear and understandable format.
Revised costs should be provided to the client at the earliest opportunity when a client’s instruction would create extra work or when an unexpected complexity arises.
Along with the pricing, legal firms must also publish typical timescales and key stages of the service to provide the client a better understanding of the process of the service.
Firms will also have to provide details of the qualifications and experience of the teams and individuals who will be working with the client.
The new transparency rules are being introduced to allow the client more information when they need to make an informed choice of which legal firm to use.
For legal firms without a website to publish such information, they must ensure that this information is readily available upon request.
Information and competition
The changes come as a result of a study carried out in 2016 which highlighted that clients did not have enough information to make informed choices when approaching a legal service.
Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “Publishing information on price, services and protections will not only benefit the public, but will also help those who deliver these services win business and connect with their customer.”
The SRA has stressed that they will not be afraid to bring disciplinary action against legal firms who do not comply.
1. Pixabay; moritz320; https://pixabay.com/en/mirror-input-mirroring-architecture-3672873/