Price publication proposals rejected by the Law Society
The Law Society has described mandatory price publication plans as unnecessary and likely to cause greater confusion for consumers.
SRA proposals to improve online transparency of law firms were today rejected by Chancery Lane, with the Society stating that there is ‘no robust evidence’ which indicate that consumers have limited choice.
Following a report from the Competitions and Markets Authority, the Solicitors Regulation Authority proposed obligatory publication of law firm prices online, as well as a more detailed description of the service being provided.
Issuing their response to these plans, the Law Society stated that it did agree with the importance of consumers making informed decisions when choosing their legal service provider. However, it did not agree with ‘blanket’ approach in regard to mandatory price publication, doubting the likelihood of this having any positive impact in practice.
Whilst the Society recognised that uncertainty around legal fees could act as a barrier for consumers, it drew attention to the complexity surrounding client needs, questioning whether mere price publication would enable them to make an informed choice.
It went on to mention the requirements that are already in place, suggesting that the market should be left to respond without interference, stating:
‘Solicitors are already required to provide the best possible information on cost to their clients, and the SRA should allow the market to respond to consumer demands for information in an appropriate way.
‘If better information on price and services is of value to consumers, then those firms providing the best quality information should gain a competitive advantage.’
The Society also stated that certain aspects of price publication could actually increase confusion among consumers, highlighting cases where clients may not be able to assess the extent of their legal needs when the initial enquiry is made.
On this basis, it stated that ‘consumers in that category will be no better informed by “shopping around” or any more able to make an assessment of the real cost’.
The SRA’s consultation is open until 20 December – it can be accessed here.