Ahead of the introduction of new price transparency requirements within the legal sector, the SRA has issued guidance on what price and service information firms must publish on their websites from this December.
As well as explaining firms’ mandatory obligations, the guidance also provides templates and best practice tips on publishing user friendly price and service information for the public.
The new transparency rules, and their expected implementation date, were first announced in June 2018, and confirmed following Legal Services Board approval in August.
Under the rules, all regulated law firms will, from early December, be required to proactively publish information on prices they charge and what these include, across a number of common services:
- For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum).
- For small businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.
In addition to prices, firms must also outline typical timescales for the quoted services and provide details of the experience and qualifications of staff who work in these areas.
The required information must be published in a prominent location on a firm’s website, which is accessible, clearly signposted and easy for visitors to find. For those without a website, the information must be immediately available in any format for any member of the public who requests it.
Research the SRA have published found that 42% of small businesses shop around online when in need of professional legal support, with 75% saying they would do this even more if more information was available on firms’ websites.
The research also revealed that small businesses think solicitor firms are more expensive than is really the case and that firms would be a more attractive option if they published prices.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Publishing information on price, services and protections will not only benefit the public, but will also help those who deliver these services win business and connect with their customers. We are providing guidance and support for firms to assist with meeting the new requirements and making the most of the opportunities they bring.”
Further reforms due to be introduced as part of the SRA’s transparency rules include a requirement to publish information on complaints procedures, a new digital register of regulated law firms, and the introduction of an SRA digital badge.
Currently in development, the digital badge will be displayed on regulated firms’ websites and link to information about the protections that customers have when using regulated firms.