Firms face new rule to publish price information for all services

Price: LSB does not distinguish between different types of legal services

Law firms regulated by CILEx Regulation (CRL) could become the first required to publish price and service information for all the legal services they provide to consumers and small businesses.

They may not be the last, however, as all the regulators look to comply with Legal Services Board (LSB) requirements to improve transparency.

CRL regulates 56 practices at the moment, of which 37 are firms of accountants that provide probate services, whose regulation it took over from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in 2022.

Its transparency rules – on publishing price and service information, as well as more general regulatory details – currently only apply to firms providing conveyancing, probate and immigration services.

But in a consultation that closes next week, CRL has proposed extending these requirements to all legal services for consumers and small businesses (defined as having up to 10 employees and a net turnover of less than £1m).

It said the expectation that even those firms not subject to the rules, introduced in 2019, “would recognise the business benefits” of adopting them has not happened.

The other legal regulators already require all firms to publish regulatory information, such as complaints procedures and insurance details, it noted.

When it came to price and service, meanwhile, CRL observed that neither the Competition and Markets Authority – whose 2016 report on the legal services market began the transparency push – nor the LSB’s April 2022 statement of policy on empowering consumers, distinguished between specific legal services.

The statement of policy appears to be the main driver; the LSB has given regulators until September to show they have taken sufficient action to implement it and could take enforcement action if they have not.

On price, the statement says: “Regulators are expected to put in place regulatory arrangements and undertake other appropriate activities to ensure the provision of useful information that best enables effective consumer choice about the price, or potential price, of the services offered by providers.”

The CRL consultation said evaluations carried out by both the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board showed that increased transparency “appears to be enabling consumers to compare the prices and services of legal services providers”, while individual and SME consumers whose legal issue was not covered by the rules also wanted the information.

“We are satisfied there will be benefits to consumers in extending the transparency rules to additional areas of law,” it said, noting also that the evaluations “have not identified issues specifically relating to price and service publication in areas of law other than conveyancing and probate”.

Implementation and enforcement would also be easier “as there will be no doubt that the rules apply to all CRL firms”.

The SRA’s rules on price and service information go further than CRL’s, extending also to road traffic offences in the magistrates’ court, unfair or wrongful dismissal claims in employment tribunals (for both consumers and businesses) and – also for businesses – debt recovery claims up to a value of £100,000 and licensing applications.

In its year three evaluation of the transparency rules, published last year, the SRA said it was “considering the case for future changes or additions to our transparency requirements”, even though nearly six in 10 law firms were failing to publish the full cost and service information required.

The BSB’s price transparency rules apply to direct access barristers handling employment tribunal cases, financial disputes arising out of divorce, First-tier Tribunal immigration appeals, Inheritance Act advices, business licensing applications, personal injury claims, summary-only motoring offences and winding-up petitions.

Another proposed CRL change that goes further than the SRA’s rules is that firms would have to link to the Legal Ombudsman’s decision page.

    Readers Comments

  • Michael Robinson says:

    Why stop there? Why not also publish verified data as to how quickly cases are completed and to whom referral fees are paid. This would help consumers understand the reality when an estate agent or mortgage broker “recommends” a conveyancer.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Keeping the conversation going beyond Pride Month

As I reflect on all the celebrations of Pride Month 2024, I ask myself why there remains hesitancy amongst LGBTQ+ staff members about when it comes to being open about their identity in the workplace.

Third-party managed accounts: Your key questions answered

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has given strong indications that it is headed towards greater restrictions on law firms when it comes to handling client money.

Understanding vicarious trauma in the legal workplace

Vicarious trauma can happen to anyone who works with clients who have experienced trauma such as domestic or other violence, child abuse, sexual assault, torture or being a refugee.

Loading animation