New rules forcing law firms to publish prices could land as soon as Summer 2017, says the Solicitors Regulation Authority

By Lee Dixon In Legal News

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed that new rules to make the publishing of price information compulsory could be enforced in the legal sector by the summer.

On the 25th January, executive director of policy at the SRA, Crispin Passmore, confirmed that plans were in place for a consultation on the new rules:

“Price transparency will happen in the time the CMA put out [the update],” he said. “We are not going to say all law firms must publish every price . . . You can discuss which areas it might be, evaluate it, work with behavioural scientists and develop it over a period of time.”

The announcement signified the regulator’s willingness to take swift action in response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) request for greater transparency, choice and overall competition within the legal services market at the end of 2016.

Within their report, the CMA stated that regulators and firms should be making a combined and concerted effort to satisfy the sizeable and growing unmet demand for legal services that exists.

In response to the announcement, The Law Superstore’s CEO, Matthew Briggs, said:

“We welcome the SRA’s conviction and willingness to respond to the CMA’s findings without delay. When the CMA revisit the sector in 3 years time, we expect them to find a revived, progressive legal market that delivers on transparency and choice in a way that truly benefits consumers. And we are looking forward to working with both the SRA and law firms to help bring about this change.

There will be many legal service providers out there scratching their heads as to how they meet the SRA’s expectations in this timeframe. I would urge those firms to get in touch with The Law Superstore, see how we can make this transitional process easy and, indeed, beneficial to them.”

The SRA is yet to reveal details relating to their plans, but they have indicated that the initial requirements may be to publish prices across the areas of work that lend themselves most easily to fixed fee pricing structures. These include family law work and will-writing.

Matthew Briggs continues:

“We understand that there has been an initial scepticism surrounding the SRA’s timeframes and the ability of regulators to implement changes that will appease the CMA. However, those people have clearly not observed what our comparison website is capable of achieving. We have already had great success in helping consumers to find and compare prices for wills, probate, divorce and other relatively straightforward legal matters.”

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