As the new Transparency Rules take effect, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has finally released details of the new digital badge that is intended to address public concerns for better information on the protections from using a regulated law firm.
The digital badge, which the SRA claim has been widely requested by many firms, is part of wider reforms intended to help the public make an informed choice as to legal provider.
The SRA has stated that, in online trials earlier in the year:
- 79% of those involved felt more comfortable selecting providers that displayed a badge,
- 86% wanted to have access easy access to information on protections,
- Consumers were 14% more likely to buy services from a firm displaying a badge than an identical firm that did not
The digital badge is configured in such a way that it will only display on websites registered to law firms regulated by the SRA and will help firms differentiate themselves from unregulated legal services providers.
By clicking on the badge, visitors to a solicitors website can access information outlining the protections offered to clients because the firm is regulated. This includes that the firm meets SRA standards, has appropriate insurance and access to the Compensation Fund, and that its clients can potentially raise complaints with the SRA or the Legal Ombudsman.
While use of the badge is initially voluntary, it will become mandatory for all SRA-regulated firms later in 2019. The badge and click through information will be available in both English and Welsh.
The badge has been launched on the same day that saw the Transparency Rules come into effect. Under the rules, all regulated law firms will be required, from 6 December, to publish information on prices they charge and what those prices include, across a number of common services, namely:
- For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum).
- For businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.
All regulated law firms are also 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 the Legal Ombudsman.