The Legal Services Board approves of SRA price transparency regulations

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has unequivocally agreed with the recent Solicitors Regulatory Authority’s (SRA) price transparency reforms.

Under the new regulations, the SRA has said that all costs should be “clear and accessible,” ideally on the homepage.

It was also adamant that all “basis for your charges, including hourly rates or fixed fees” must be made clear to avoid ambiguity and confusion. Additionally, legal service providers should be clear on the “key stages of the matter and likely timescales for each stage.”

Neil Buckley, LSB chief executive, has welcomed the SRA regulations by saying the reforms were a: “significant first step. The regulations should help to promote competition and contribute to improving access to justice.”

As well as making the costs clear, SRA members will also be obliged to publish details and procedures for complaints handling, making it clear as to how a legal services user can complain to the Legal Ombudsman and the SRA.

The firm’s SRA number and digital badge must also be placed in a “prominent place.”

It is hoped that the regulations will lead to improved consumer confidence and clarity when dealing with legal services.

Despite LSB approval, specialist property law regulators like The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), have proposed new reforms to help improve consumer choice that move beyond recommendations suggested by the SRA.

The reforms here suggest that price transparency alone should not be the most influential factor on selling legal services. CLC members must provide standard information on: the services they provide; explain the main stages in the delivery of the service and make the legal service user aware of the expected timescales.

Although a recent report, carried out by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, claims that 72% of legal service users are persuaded by price, 78% are still motivated by a firm’s reputation.

Any reform that hands the consumer more power to make informed decisions is a positive step forward. However, in order for the consumer experience to be fully satisfied, further clarity on the process and services should be considered.

Are you worried that these new changes will lead to a focus on price as opposed to services? Or, is this an opportunity to consider the quality, bespoke services available to consumers?

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