ASA upholds complaint against “your solicitor rips you off” advert

Print This Post

15 June 2016


ASA: no evidence that fees inflated by 20%

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint over an advertisement from a website that claims to help clients recover a “huge amount” of their legal costs, which said that “on average, a solicitor overcharges you by 20%”.

The ASA said the regional press advert was headed: “Top 5 ways your solicitor rips you off… learn how to get your overcharges back!”

It was publicising the website, which stated that the amount solicitors charge was “covered by legislation”, but “many ignore these guidelines”.

The website encourages users to sign up for the guide Top 5 Ways Your Solicitor Rips You Off, which promises to tell readers ‘how solicitors get around hourly rates’ and ‘why their estimate isn’t an accurate guideline’.

Martin Shepherd Solicitors, based in Enfield, complained to the ASA that the claims that solicitors overcharged clients by 20% on average and ignored fee guidelines were misleading.

In its response, website owner Recovery Limited argued that “a ‘one-fifth’ rule existed” and that meant a “law costs draft company” could only recover their fees from solicitors if they recovered one-fifth or more of their client’s legal costs.

The response went on: “Therefore, if most solicitors did not overcharge by 20%, the law cost industry would no longer exist.”

Recovery said that solicitors should provide “proper estimates of costs”, and advise clients of the right to an assessment under the Solicitors Act 1974, but this advice was not provided because it “would prohibit law costs draft companies acting against a solicitor they had worked with”.

In its ruling upholding the complaint, the ASA said that in order to substantiate the claim of overcharging, Recovery “would need to provide evidence, applicable to all solicitors, to demonstrate that their charges were inflated, by an average of 20%, without proper reason”.

The ASA said Recovery “did not provide such evidence and we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading”.

On the claim that solicitors ignored guidelines on charging, imposed by legislation, the ASA said it “acknowledged Recovery’s assertion that solicitors fell under a code of conduct and there were also legal provisions regarding their fees”.

The ASA went on: “However, they had not provided any evidence that demonstrated that many solicitors ignored those standards, for example to show that they had been censured under the code of conduct or had been subject to action in relation to guidelines for charges. Because the claim had again not been substantiated, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

The ASA ruled: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Recovery Ltd t/a not to claim in future that solicitors overcharged their clients or that they ignored relevant guidance in relation to service charges in the absence of adequate substantiation.”

Tags: , ,

3 Responses to “ASA upholds complaint against “your solicitor rips you off” advert”

  1. While I wouldn’t dispute the ASA ruling, the legal profession needs to recognise that it is widely perceived as being greedy.

  2. Geoffrey Negus on June 15th, 2016 at 10:29 pm
  3. Interesting that Recovery Ltd is apparently a dormant company according to accounts filed by Waris Khan at Companies House as at 31 March 2016. . Maybe the ASA could look at their website and decide if the use of a dormant company name is a further breach? And no advertising spend is shown in their accounts either …..

  4. Elsie Johnson on June 17th, 2016 at 3:01 pm
  5. I don’t expect Gary at Fleet the man behind is offering to review the Solicitor’s invoices on behalf of ‘ripped off’ clients for free is he?

  6. Not Impressed on June 17th, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

The LSB’s proposals for legislative reform: let’s be clear

Caroline Wallace LSB

The publication of the Legal Services Board’s vision for legislative reform of legal services regulation on 12 September has generated a healthy level of interest and debate. This can, on the surface, seem a somewhat dry subject. However, it has an impact not just on existing regulated practitioners, but also on providers of legal services more generally, as well as everyone who uses or benefits from an effective legal sector. And, let’s face it, that’s all of us.

October 25th, 2016