Regulators Meeting Offers Mixed Feelings Towards December’s Price Transparency Deadline

Despite the December deadline of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recommendations into price transparency rapidly approaching, many regulators are still uncertain as to how they will implement the changes.

The SRA came to the Remedies Programme Implementation Group buoyant with their unpublished findings that small businesses are less price sensitive than was initially reported. Their research also indicating that small businesses valued price certainty but not necessarily fixed pricing structures.

Similarly, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has found that implementing price transparency will be easier than originally anticipated.

However, BSB would not enforce all areas of public access barristers to publish their prices transparently.

The BSB spokesperson said: “BSB had identified several areas, includingbasic criminal procedings like motoring offences.

BSB was also reporting on the outcomes of the pilots which had demonstrated that price transparency was less difficult to implement than had been expected.

In addition, the emerging findings from its study indicated that the public was capable of distinguishing between complex and non-complex cases and were in favour of more rather than less information on price, though interestingly had a preference for hourly rates rather than fixed fees.”

Whereas BSB were considering certain areas to trial price transparency with, the Intitute of Chartered Accountants for England and wales (ICAEW) has claimed that it will not enforce its firms providing probate services to publish their fees.

Disappointingly, this is a decision that the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA) are also going to follow.

The ACCA representatives stated: There was considerable discussion about the voluntary approach. The LSB has approved ICAEW action plan on the basis that a review would be taken in a short period of time.”

The CMA were also concerned by the ICAEW and ACCA’s decision to opt out of the voluntary system, stating: There was a risk to the whole-of-market approach that was intended and this would also be a question for the Legal Services Board going forward in the context of new authorisations.”

Despite the calls for a united approach to price transparency, it seems that regulators are set to adopt their own unique interpretations. Although there will be different approaches, the hope is that it will still be beneficial to the consumer and their awareness.

Are you concerned by the seemingly lack of unity between regulators? Could this lead to further confusion for legal service users? Is it positive that regulators continue to meet regularly and have the discussion?

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