Proposals for transparency could mislead clients

According to the Law Society, providing clients with raw regulatory data on legal firms could undermine their ability to exercise informed choice as well as causing them to be misled. This was in response to a discussion paper from the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority regarding both consumer choice and regulatory data.

President of the Society, Robert Bourns acknowledged that a greater quantity of data will not always ensure quality.

“The provision of raw regulatory data without proper context has the potential to mislead clients and undermine their ability to exercise informed choice – more information does not inevitably mean better information.”

Availability of “core data” was highlighted in the SRA’s paper published in October 2016, which proposed that storage on a digital register would “help consumers make informed choices and drive competition.”

Bourns queried the necessity of this, however, highlighting that by providing clients with “information that is relevant to the matter in hand”, solicitors are already helping their clients to make informed choices.

“Helping clients to make informed choices about legal services is at the heart of every solicitor’s practice.”

The Society President also encouraged caution in regards to price publication for certain areas of the legal sector.

“Regulation can be a blunt instrument and legal services are not widgets. Where possible – as is the case with price information – solutions driven by client demand are more flexible and less costly than regulation.”

To help solicitors provide clients with the most necessary information in a suitable way, the Law Society have put together a Transparency Toolkit which can be found here.

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