Law Society criticises calls for publication of average prices

The Law Society has called the Legal Services Consumer Panel’s call for publication of average prices “misconceived.”

Responding to the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP), which argued regulatory intervention is needed to ensure information about average fees is published, Law Society Chief Executive, Catherine Dixon, strongly disagreed.

Catherine Dixon said: “We share the LSCP’s desire, and that of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), continuously to improve the way the legal services markets function. This is in the best interests of solicitors and the clients they serve.

“However, the proposal there should be regulatory requirements specifying what firms should publish is misconceived. A narrow focus on price – especially average price which could be particularly misleading – is potentially damaging to clients’ ability to make informed choices. Publishing average prices in areas of work where there are multiple variables affecting the actual costs would be confusing and in many cases meaningless – the opposite of what the LSCP intends.

“We agree the market will benefit from the provision of more useful information on both price and service quality. This should include clarity about the protections available to the clients of regulated firms that are not available to those who engage unregulated providers.

“We are confident that the legal services market, which is very competitive, will deliver ever more beneficial and durable improvements than further regulation, which would also create the risk of unintended consequences.

“We will work with the CMA and the profession to support solicitors to provide ever more relevant information to their clients, through our online ‘Find a Solicitor’ search engine, as well as by developing and disseminating best practice guidance for solicitors on providing accessible and appropriate information on price and quality of service. This will support solicitors and help clients to make informed decisions about the legal services they buy.”

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