Licensed conveyancers will be required to publish price and service information on their websites from December after the Legal Services Board approved their regulator’s new rules.
As a result of the changes, practices regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) will have to make cost information readily accessible on their website and in alternative formats on request.
The application to the board said: “We believe that transparency around pricing will encourage competition between practices.”
This will mean publishing:
- The total cost of the service or, where not practicable, the average cost or range of costs;
- A description of the service offered;
- The fee, or where not practicable the average fee or range of fees;
- Whether the fees are determined as a fixed sum or by reference to hourly rates;
- A description and the value of disbursements, including land tax. Where the actual cost of a disbursement is not known, a range of the likely cost of that disbursement;
- Whether VAT is payable on the fees or disbursements and, if so, in each case the amount of VAT payable; and
- Whether the firm has referral arrangements with third parties, whether a referral fee is paid and, if so, the fee or average referral fee payable.
It will be up to firms to decide how they wish to achieve this, but the CLC will publish guidance along with cost estimate templates, to ensure quotes are comprehensive and comparable.
Stressing that pricing information was just one element of what goes into choosing a lawyer, the CLC said greater transparency on service standards would increase the opportunity for its practices to differentiate themselves from competitors and appeal to clients on other grounds.
Firms will be required to publish the services they provide, key stages in the delivery of those services; and indicative timescales.
Whilst not prescribed, the CLC will encourage firms to include information about the staff mix and their qualifications, the mode of delivering the service, specific areas of expertise or focus, the practice’s typical client profile and feedback from clients on third-party feedback platforms and price comparison websites.
Firms will also have to publish standard information about how to make a complaint, client protection arrangements and regulatory status.
CLC chief executive Sheila Kumar said: “We can now move ahead with the changes to make sure consumers will have access to additional and clearer information to help them make an informed choice when deciding which lawyer to use.
“From September we will be providing support to our licensed community to implement the changes and we will encourage firms to look to our guidance on implementation.”
The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s new rules to promote transparency were approved earlier this month.