New rules on transparent pricing for solicitors
In December 2018 the SRA launched new rules that for the first time make it mandatory for solicitors to proactively publish price information for a range of key legal services.
The SRA regulates 180,000+ solicitors in England and Wales and thousands of law firms, and the new rules apply to all solicitors and regulated law firms that provide those key services.
The services are:
- Motoring offences
- Employment tribunals
- Immigration (excluding asylum)
Some services for small businesses are also covered by the rules including debt recovery work (up to £100k) and business premises licensing applications.
The rules also mean that all SRA-regulated law firms are now required to publish online details of their complaint’s procedures, including explaining how and when a complaint can be escalated to the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
The regulator also launched a new digital badge in December 2018 for SRA-regulated law firms to feature on their websites. The badge is underpinned by technology which means it will only display on websites registered to law firms that the SRA regulates.
When a website visitor clicks on the badge they will be able to access information outlining the protections offered to clients because the firm is regulated. This includes that the firm meets the SRA’s standards, have appropriate insurance and access to a Compensation Fund, and that its client can potentially raise complaints with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
The badge and click-through information are available in both English and Welsh.
Online trials conducted earlier this year involving 1,899 people demonstrated the public expectation and demand for this type of website checkpoint when people are looking for help with a legal situation. The trials revealed that:
- 79% felt more comfortable selecting providers that displayed a badge
- 86% wanted to have access easy access to information on protections
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said:
“All the evidence shows that people increasingly want to shop around before engaging legal support. They are interested in price, but also want information on quality and protections to be readily available. The more information is available, the more people are able to make good choices.”
“By publishing prices, outlining services and displaying our new badge,regulated law firms will be able to set themselves apart from others and help potential clients to see the benefits they offer.”
The new price publication rules are now in force. Use of the digital badge is currently voluntary but during 2019 it will also become a mandatory requirement for all SRA-regulated firms.
Interested in finding out more? Take a look at the SRA’s website http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/find-use-instruct-solicitor.page