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: 3rd September 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

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

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”

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 is the SRA Transparency Rules implementation deadline?

According to the SRA:

“From December 2018, all regulated law firms will be required to publish information on prices they charge, and what these cover, across a number of common services”

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?
Advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal In Consultation
Debt recovery (up to the value of £100,000) In Consultation
Advice and assistance and representation in relation to licensing applications for business premises In Consultation

For Consumers

Case Type Available in QuoteXpress?
Residential Conveyancing - Sales Yes
Residential Conveyancing - Purchases Yes
Residential Conveyancing - Remortgages (and mortgages) Yes
Probate (uncontested) Yes
Preparation and submission of Immigration Applications (excluding asylum) In Consultation
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) In Consultation
Advice and representation at the Magistrates Court in relation to summary only road traffic offences dealt with at a single hearing In Consultation
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. In Consultation

For Consumers

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 

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)

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

With respect to immigration matters the SRA has yet to produce any draft guidance as immigration matters were not mentioned in the draft guidance on price and service transparency and did not form part of the Looking to the future: better information, more choice consultation.

The SRA notes that:

"We did not include this area within our consultation, but asked respondents if there were any areas they felt were missing. A number of stakeholders asked us to consider immigration given the vulnerability of clients. Stakeholders also raised concerns about unexplained differences in prices for the same work."

The new post consultation SRA Transparency Rules simply note that the services covered by the new rules are:

1.3 (c) the preparation and submission of immigration applications, excluding asylum applications;

1.3 (d) the provision of 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 appeals;

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for immigration. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

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

With respect to motoring offences the SRA has issued the following draft guidance:

"Motoring offences means a summary only offence under Part I of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and/or s89 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 where the client is pleading guilty and the matter is dealt with at the first appearance

Not including:

  • advice and representation in relation to a special reasons hearing
  • instruction of an expert"

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for motoring offences. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for an employment tribunal matter for a consumer?

With respect to employment tribunals the SRA has issued the following draft guidance:

"Employment tribunal means providing advice and representation to employees in relation to their bringing of a claim before the Employment Tribunal against their employer. Including actions for:

  • unfair dismissal
  • wrongful dismissal"

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. "

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for employment tribunal matters. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

For Small Businesses

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for an employment tribunal matter for a small business?

With respect to employment tribunals the SRA has issued the following draft guidance:

"Employment tribunal means providing advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee. Including actions for:

  • unfair dismissal
  • wrongful dismissal"

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:

"1.4 (a) the provision of advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal;"

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for employment tribunal matters. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

What questions do I need to ask in order to produce a transparent fee estimate for a debt recovery matter for a small business?

With respect to debt recover the SRA has issued the following draft guidance:

"Debt recvoery means the process of recovering money or property from a debtor when they have failed to pay back the debt within a time that was previously arranged.

The new post consultation SRA Transparency Rules state that a fee estimate must be provided for debt recovery as follows:

"1.4 (b) debt recovery up to the value of £100,000;"

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for debt recovery matters. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

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?

With respect to Licensing applications in relation to business premises the SRA has issued the following draft guidance:

"Licensing applications in relation to business premises means providing advice and assistance and representation to businesses in relation to licensing applications for business premises, including:

  • for the sale or supply of alcohol
  • change of opening hours
  • for entertainment purposes"

The new post consultation SRA Transparency Rules state that a fee estimate must be provided for Licensing applications in relation to business premises as follows:

"1.4 (c) the provision of advice and assistance and representation in relation to licensing applications for business premises;"

We are currently in consultation on how best to provide a fee estimate for Licensing applications in relation to business premises matters. If you would like to hear from us when we know more please contact us today.

How can QuoteXpress help?

QuoteXpress can help your firm comply with the new Regulatory Arrangements and Transparency Rules by providing you with an instant online quote generator you can add to your website and help your firm to meet the requirements of the new rules. Register instantly for a free 30 day trial or get in touch today!

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