Consumer Panel calls for transparency on pricing

The Legal Services Consumer Panel have issued a report calling on regulators to “empower consumers with information” by requiring firms to publish more information on quality and pricing.

In a report to the Legal Services Board (LSB) entitled “Opening up data in legal services” the panel have called on regulators to do more to empower consumers in choosing legal services.

The panel’s main recommendations to regulators include: “Requiring the publication of the average cost of legal services on the websites of approved firms and individuals, and mandate that they provide this information on request. This should also include the average cost of disbursements.”

They also recommend that regulators, “carry out mystery or shadow shopping exercises on quality of advice in high risk areas and publish their research findings in full.”

Elisabeth Davies, Consumer Panel Chair said: “More needs to be done to empower consumers and encourage them to make informed decisions. Information, simply presented, at the time of need, is one tool that can be used by legal services regulators.

“We have seen this tool adopted in other sectors and although there are challenges, we hope regulators rise to the task and begin the journey towards more transparency, and effective engagement.”

The report says regulators are well placed in reforming the market.

The report states: “Regulators are in the best position to decide the scope, focus and extent of their primary or secondary investigations into quality, including how they might credibly go about gathering and publishing this information.

“The LSB has a role to play here in offering guidance on how smaller regulators might meet this need. What is crucially important is for the findings of any research and or study be published and disseminated for wider learnings.

“That being said, the SRA and BSB should lead the way by commissioning mystery shopping research in one or two areas of high risks. There is also scope for others to be proactive; e.g. the CLC could publish quality information on licenced conveyancers work. This could focus on speed, accuracy and registration timeliness of conveyancing transactions.”

Today's Conveyancer