6th December

Price Transparency Deadline

New SRA and CLC rules governing Price Transparency come into force in December

SRA Transparency Rules

SRA Transparency Rules - Part of the Better Information, more choice: Post consultation rules

Last Updated: 29th November 2018

We have produced an overview of how the new SRA Transparency Rules (part of the Better Information, more choice: Post consultation rules) will affect your SRA regulated law firm.

The new rules are a result of the recommendations set out in the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Legal Services Market Study regarding price and service transparency.

CHANGE HISTORY

29/11/18 - Included a link to the SRA's Price Transparency Guidance and updated our guidance on each of the areas of law covered by the rules
3/9/18 - Updated to reflect that the Legal Services Board (LSB) has now approved the SRA's changes to the rules
3/9/18 - Included a link to the Law Society's 'briefing for members' on the new Transparency Rules

Free Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

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What are the SRA Transparency Rules?

The SRA Transparency Rules set out the information that SRA authorised firms should make available to clients and potential clients and form part of the Better Information, more choice: Post consultation rules. The rules aim to ensure people have accurate and relevant information about a solicitor or firm when they are considering purchasing legal services and will help members of the public and small businesses make informed choices, improving competition in the legal market.

The rules were announced as part of the SRA’s wider Looking to the Future and Better Information, more choice reforms which were designed to improve public access to legal services by making information on price, protections and services more easily available.

How will the SRA Transparency Rules affect my firm?

SRA Regulated law firms must publish information on the prices they charge for certain public-facing services, as well as display a new badge (yet to be produced) showing the protections their regulated status gives customers, under new measures that were confirmed by the SRA on 14th June 2018, and approved by the LSB on 3rd August 2018.

How am I expected to publish my prices under the SRA Transparency Rules?

The SRA has worked with other regulators in order to agree common frameworks for publishing price information on certain services.

Publishing Price information Through your website

You are expected to make it simple for your clients and prospective clients to find your pricing information:

“1.6 Cost information published under this rule must be clear and accessible and in a prominent place on your website.”

What if I don't have a website?

You will still need to provide the information on request:

“3.1 An authorised body … that does not have a website, must make the information … available on request”

Is the SRA mandating how I prices my services?

No. According to the SRA:

"does not seek to specify what pricing models you use, or the prices you charge. Its purpose is to make sure that information on costs and services is as readily available to the public as possible, in a format that is accurate and easy for them to understand."

Do the rules require me to publish a binding quote?

No. According to the SRA:

The rules do not require you to publish a binding quote for each and every scenario which you may deal with, for example, pre-empting unusual complexities or that a client may not follow your advice.

When an unforeseen complexity arises or where the way in which a client asks you to proceed means additional work, you should inform the client of this and provide revised costs information.

What do the SRA Transparency Rules look like?

The new rules are encapsulated in the SRA Transparency Rules and set out the information that SRA authorised firms should make available to clients and potential clients. According to the new rules:

“The rules aim to ensure people have accurate and relevant information about a solicitor or firm when they are considering purchasing legal services and will help members of the public and small businesses make informed choices, improving competition in the legal market.”

The new SRA Transparency Rules are available from the SRA website, and the Law Society has developed a briefing on the Transparency Rules for its members.

What are the Mandatory Requirements of the rules?

The mandatory requirements are as follows:

  • - You must provide price information prominently, in as clear and understandable format as possible
  • - You must specify whether stated prices include VAT
  • - You must specify exactly what is included within the price displayed. This is important even if you quote a fixed fee to avoid confusion amongst consumers about what they might need to pay extra for
  • - If you publish a range of costs, you need to set out the basis for your charges, including any hourly rates and the types of factors that will determine what the final price will be
  • - If you offer your services in different ways and the delivery model impacts on the price, make this clear. For example, if you charge a higher fee for face-to-face services than for strictly online services
  • - If using an online quote generator, the generator must produce a quote directly without requiring any additional contact, for example someone calling to discuss the quote

Can I capture contact information for the client before producing a quote or providing a fee estimate?

According to the SRA:

If using an online quote generator, the generator must produce a quote directly without requiring any additional contact, for example someone calling to discuss the quote

You could request contact information for the client, so long as followup contact was not a requirement of them obtaining a quote in the first place.

This is an important consideration with respect to data privacy. With QuoteXpress you can choose whether or not to capture contact details when providing a quote.

The SRA also notes that:

"consider how consumers like to interact with price information, for example research shows that when using an online price generator people do not like being forced to provide personal information such as email addresses or phone numbers."

What is the SRA Transparency Rules implementation deadline?

According to the SRA:

“From 6 December 2018, our transparency rules mean you must display prices and service information if you publish that you work in any of the ... areas”

Does the SRA still intend to publish complaints data?

According to the SRA:

“Following feedback, we no longer plan to publish details of client complaints to law firms. This is based on concerns that without appropriate context, complaints data could be difficult to understand.”

The SRA will however require that a firm:

“must publish on its website details of its complaints handling procedure including, details about how and when a complaint can be made to the Legal Ombudsman and to the SRA.”

Which legal services are affected by the SRA Transparency Rules?

In its initial consultation the SRA considered the areas of law it believed would make the biggest impact in terms of implementing the CMA’s recommendations around better price transparency in legal services.

Since the consultation, the SRA has "decided to wait to see how the market develops” with respect to price publication for divorce and will writing. For personal injury matters the SRA has concluded that providing consumers with a greater understanding of the process and what it involves will have a greater impact on people accessing these services and helping them to choose a provider.

As such the SRA intends to:

“issue guidance for both divorce and personal injury matters on how firms can be more transparent. This guidance will encourage price transparency in these areas, but also focus on providing clear and accessible information to consumers on the legal process they are going through and help them to understand their options.”

The table below details the case types covered by the Transparency Rules and whether QuoteXpress can generate an instant fee estimate for the service. The list of services is greater than those covered by the CLC's new Regulatory Arrangements, as one would expect.

For Small Businesses

Case Type Available in QuoteXpress?
Employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Debt recovery (up to £100,000) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Licensing applications for business premises (new applications or varying existing licenses) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool

For Consumers

Case Type Available in QuoteXpress?
Residential Conveyancing - Sales YES - Transparency Compliance Tool and Quote Calculator
Residential Conveyancing - Purchases YES - Transparency Compliance Tool and Quote Calculator
Residential Conveyancing - Remortgages (and mortgages) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool and Quote Calculator
Probate (uncontested cases with all assets in the UK) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Immigration (excluding asylum applications) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Advice and representation at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in relation to appeals against Home Office visa or immigration decisions (excluding asylum) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Motoring offences (summary only offences) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool
Employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) YES - Transparency Compliance Tool

How can QuoteXpress help?

QuoteXpress can help your firm comply with the new Regulatory Arrangements and Transparency Rules by providing you with a Transparency Compliance Tool and Instant Quote Generator you can add to your website and help your firm to meet the requirements of the new rules. Sign Up For Free Today!

For Consumers

Conveyancing

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for conveyancing?

With respect to conveyancing, templates for calculating conveyancing fees were developed between the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The information you are expected to capture in order to produce an accurate and transparent fee estimate is as follows:

Required Information Asked in QuoteXpress and automatically factored into the fees if required?
whether a first-time buyer Yes
value of sale/purchase Yes
whether a remortgage Yes
whether freehold or leasehold Yes 
whether a new build Yes 
whether first registration of title Yes
whether mortgage or not Yes
whether an Islamic mortgage Yes 
in purchase cases, whether primary residence, buy to let or second/holiday home Yes 
whether multiple owners Yes 
whether a shared ownership scheme Yes 
whether using a help to buy scheme Yes
whether purchase under right to buy Yes
whether purchase at auction Yes 
whether property has been repossessed Yes 

Free Conveyancing Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Probate

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for probate?

With respect to probate, a template for calculating probate fees has been developed between the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The information you are expected to capture in order to produce an accurate and transparent fee estimate is as follows:

Required Information Asked in QuoteXpress and automatically factored into the fees if required?
Whether there is a will and if it has been located Yes
Identity of inquirer and if, they are not an executor, whether all executors have died or refused to act Yes
Estimated value of assets Yes
Whether there is property in the estate Yes
Whether any property is outside England and Wales Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property
Whether the grant of probate is likely to be contested Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property
Number of actual assets/ liabilities (apart from properties and value of) Yes
Number of properties and value of Yes
Number of beneficiaries Yes
Are any of the beneficiaries mentally incapable or a minor Yes
Are there any trusts in the Will Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property (coming soon)
Is the estate a taxable one or not Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property (coming soon)
If the estate is not taxable on first light then enquire as to whether any gifts were made in lifetime that may make estate taxable Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property (coming soon)
Any missing beneficiaries or any forensic work needed to create family tree under intestacy Draft Estimate saved so that further enquires can be made as to the nature of the property (coming soon)

Free Probate Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Immigration

Which types of applications are covered by the rules?

  • - Applications for naturalisation or registration under the British Nationality Act 1981
  • - Applications on behalf of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members under the applicable EEA Regulations or Immigration Rules, including applications for permanent residence, residence cards, and registration certificates
  • - Applications under the Immigration Rules, including:
    • - student and work experience visas
    • - visit visas (for tourism, or visiting friends / family)
    • - spouse and partners applications, including fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners
    • - applications for work, business or study under the Points-Based System;
    • - dependent relative and family reunion applications
    • - ancestry visas
    • - other categories, such as applications on the basis of long residence

Which types of applications are you not required to publish prices for?

  • - Asylum applications
  • - Statelessness applications
  • - Human rights / private life applications
  • - Applications for Secretary of State immigration bail
  • - Reconsideration and legacy requests
  • - Judicial review, such as claims for unlawful detention
  • - Immigration services to businesses (e.g. applications for certificates of sponsorship or confirmation of acceptance for studies).

What are the mandatory requirements in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for an immigration matter?

The fee quoted should include:

  • - considering documents
  • - attending on the client
  • - taking their instructions and providing advice
  • - preparing and submitting the application
  • - advising the client on timelines and the outcome of their application

Free Immigration Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Motoring offences

What are the mandatory requirements in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for a summary only motoring offence?

Your fee estimate must include:

  • - If you undertake this work on an hourly rate basis, provide the rate and an estimate of the number of hours
  • - Unless stated as a specific exclusion, the price displayed should include:
    • - Considering evidence
    • - Providing advice in relation to plea and likely sentence
    • - Where you cannot anticipate the likely sentence, advice on the options available to the court in relation to sentencing
    • - Where appropriate, advice on whether an exceptional hardship, or special reasons argument should be made
    • - Representation at a single hearing

Free Motoring Offences Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Employment

What are the mandatory requirements in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for an employment matter?

You need to provide estimates for claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal.

According to SRA guidance if you cannot provide the total cost of a service, you can provide the average cost or a range of costs instead.

Discrimination and Equal Pay matters were also mentioned in the draft guidance on price and service transparency however they are not mentioned in the new post consultation SRA Transparency Rules:

"1.3 (f) the provision of advice and representation to employees in relation to the bringing of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal. "

Free Employment Tribunals Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

For Small Businesses

Employment

What are the mandatory requirements in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for an employment matter?

You need to provide estimates for claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal.

According to SRA guidance if you cannot provide the total cost of a service, you can provide the average cost or a range of costs instead.

Free Employment Tribunals Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Debt Recovery

What are the mandatory requirements in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for debt recovery?

When providing costs for debt recovery, it is common for firms to provide a fixed fee based on the value of the debt to recover.

The SRA has provided an example of what such an approach could look like, but notes that you are not required to follow that model.

You must provide a fee estimate for debt recovery of up to £100,000.

Free Debt Recovery Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

Licensing Applications

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for Licensing applications in relation to business premises for a small business?

You are required to provide price information to businesses in relation to applying for a new premises licence or to vary a premises licence to allow those premises to be used for one or more licensable activities.

This means that the rules are limited to two types of applications – applications for a premises licence under Section 17 of the Licensing Act 2003 and applications to vary a premises licence under Section 34 of the Licensing Act 2003.

According to the SRA, if you cannot provide the total cost of the service in the form of a fixed fee, you can provide the average cost or a range of costs instead. We have not prescribed what these ranges are, but they should be the best information you can provide based on your knowledge and experience.

Free Licensing Applications Transparency Compliance Tool

Regulators have provided compliance templates for firms in order to help them comply with the new regulations.

These templates are available through our Transparency Compliance Tool - sign up for free today

SIGNUP FOR FREE TODAY

How can QuoteXpress help?

QuoteXpress can help your firm comply with the new Regulatory Arrangements and Transparency Rules by providing you with a Transparency Compliance Tool and Instant Quote Generator you can add to your website and help your firm to meet the requirements of the new rules. Sign Up For Free Today!

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