SRA U-turn on compulsory price publication
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has changed its mind on whether to lend support to the proposal for solicitors’ firms to publish their charging rates and prices online.
A report on the legal services market prepared by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December last year found that individuals struggled to make informed choices regarding law firms due to a lack of information about price, service and quality. The report seemed to favour the development of price comparison websites to allow customers greater oversight of available choices.
The report stated ‘Regulators should set a new minimum standard for disclosures on price and the service provide, and develop and disseminate best practice guidance … This should include a requirement for providers to publish relevant information about the prices consumers are likely to pay for legal services’.
The SRA Chief Executive, Paul Philip has said ‘The CMA was absolutely right that changes were needed if we were to tackle unmet need and support people and small businesses accessing legal services. They strongly endorsed our programme of reform. We are working closely with the whole sector to make sure we can deliver changes to the benefit of everyone.
In considering how we publish price information, we need to continue having in-depth conversations with everyone, from law firms to consumer groups, to get this right. We want to make sure we strike a balance between making sure consumers have access to consistent, useful price information, while not over-burdening firms with over-restrictive rules’.
The SRA intend to trial a few areas of law, most likely to be conveyancing, for compulsory publication of price information and structure. A full consultation is due to take place later this year.
Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.