Are Conveyancers ready to meet the demands of the new SRA transparency rules?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has confirmed the scope of regulations designed to ensure clients have the information they need to make an informed choice of which legal services provider to use.

The new transparency rules will come into effect in the legal industry in December 2018 are expected to meet the demands of the Competition and Markets Authority, who following a study of the market in 2016 identified consumer information as a weakness in this sector. The new rules are being introduced to give clients more information to facilitate a more informed choice when deciding which legal firm to use.

Fees for residential conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals and immigration must all be published on firms’ websites. Firms will also have to provide details of the experience and qualifications of teams and individuals who will carry out the work.

What are the new rules?

The full list of rules is now published, requiring firms to also publish what services are included in the displayed price, along with any services which are not included, but might be incurred. It must be clear whether the prices include VAT.

If a client’s instruction creates extra work or if an unexpected complexity arises, then the client must be given a revised price at the earliest opportunity.In addition to the pricing, legal firms must also publish typical timescales and the key stages of the service they are buying to provide the client with a better understanding of the processes involved.

Where conveyancing prices are concerned, this is where a company website will come into it’s own, providing a platform for an embedded conveyancing quotation software solution. For those legal firms without a website to publish pricing information, they must ensure that this information is readily available upon request.

Are the imminent changes to the way solicitors are regulated, a risk or an opportunity to the legal profession?
This is the headline of the LexisNexis Bellwether Discussion paper 2018, highlighting that that the majority of firms are unaware of, and therefore unprepared for the regulatory changes on the horizon, whilst 5% of the solicitors who were spoken to, articulating that this is a necessary change for the profession, making competition fairer, improving careers, and giving solicitors and clients more options.

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