The SRA has issued guidance on what price and service information firms must publish on their websites in readiness for the introduction of new price transparency requirements in December.
In addition to providing an explanation to firms as to their mandatory obligations, the guidance also provide a limited number of templates and tips on publishing user friendly price and service information for the public.
The new transparency rules, and their expected implementation date, were first announced in June 2018, and confirmed following Legal Services Board approval in August.
Under the rules, all regulated law firms will, from early December, be required to proactively publish information on prices they charge and what these include, across a number of common services:
- For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum).
- For small businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.
In addition to prices, firms must also outline typical timescales for the quoted services and provide details of the experience and qualifications of staff who work in these areas.
The required information must be published in a prominent location on a firm’s website, which is accessible, clearly signposted and easy for visitors to find. For those without a website, the information must be immediately available in any format for any member of the public who requests it.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said:
“Publishing information on price, services and protections will not only benefit the public, but will also help those who deliver these services win business and connect with their customers. We are providing guidance and support for firms to assist with meeting the new requirements and making the most of the opportunities they bring.”
Meanwhile, the Law Society, who have not been the greatest advocates of the new rules have urged firms to make a start on compliance with the new rule.
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said.
“Given the short time some firms have to cover a lot of ground – and the uncertainty surrounding what adjustments they may have to make for Brexit – we’d encourage the SRA to take a light approach to enforcement in the first months.”
Further reforms due to be introduced as part of the SRA’s transparency rules include a requirement to publish information on complaints procedures, a new digital register of regulated law firms, and the introduction of an SRA digital badge.
Currently in development, the digital badge will be displayed on regulated firms’ websites and link to information about the protections that customers have when using regulated firms.