SRA confirms price publication plans

The areas of law under which law firms will be required to publish prices has been expanded by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The decision, made by the regulator after ‘engaging with’ over 21,000 members of both the profession and the public, will mean that firms will also now need to display the fees they currently charge as well as what these include.

In addition to the areas of law which the proposals were originally applied to – conveyancing, wills and personal injury – the rules will now also apply to probate, immigration advice, motoring offences, as well as the cost of bringing claims before an employment tribunal.

The decision to expand application, as outlined by the SRA’s executive director for policy Crispin Passmore, was made following feedback from customers. According to its own research, 85% requested a greater amount of accessible information, including further detail on cost.

In addition, the SRA has stated that as part of its wider regulatory reforms, further rules will be introduced which require solicitors working on a freelance basis or outside regulated law firms to provide information on regulatory protects and applicable insurance arrangements to clients.

Whilst failing to publish prices could result in action being taken by the regulator, Passmore stated that are no specific requirements as to where the information is published.

As set out by the SRA, the key measures include:

  • From December 2018, all regulated law firms will be required to publish information on prices they charge, and what these cover, across a number of common services:
    • For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum).
    • For small businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.

The regulator has also laid out plans to introduce a new searchable register, providing information on all regulated law firms and solicitors in England and Wales, as well as a digital badge scheme to be displayed on the websites of regulated firms.

Crispin Passmore stated: “Better information will not only help the public and small businesses, but also provide opportunities for firms to promote their individual offer and the extra customer protections you get using a regulated law firm. It is a win-win for everyone.”

The full announcement from the SRA can be found here.

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