Why solicitors will soon be publishing their fees
Solicitors in Wales and England will soon be forced to publish their conveyancing fees on their website in an effort to help those moving home to find the best deals.
The new rules on fees
Until now, the one million people moving home each year across the UK have had little opportunity to compare legal services and their prices. First-time buyers often use the services of solicitors that are linked to mortgage lenders and estate agents, which may profit from referral fees.
New rules for transparency were introduced on 6 December 2018 by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). This should lead to comparison services that will provide online quotes and reviews of the work of a conveyancing solicitor such as https://www.samconveyancing.co.uk/.
Conveyancing will not be the only legal service to fall under the new rules; in addition, solicitors will be expected to publish their fees on their websites for uncontested probate cases, immigration, debt recovery, motoring offences, employment tribunals and licensing applications.
The bare minimum expected to be published on websites will include typical timescales, hourly rates, and additional fees and costs. Online calculators to input your address to receive a final estimate of the cost you will have to pay may also be included on some websites.
The predicted impact of the rules
Some industry experts have predicted that the new rules may increase consolidation amongst conveyancer firms, with small legal companies being run out of business as price competition takes hold of the market. The number of legal businesses offering conveyancing services has fallen to 4,100, which represents a drop of 700 during the past five years. With the onset of these rules, this rate looks likely to accelerate.
The new transparency rules may also encourage a race to the bottom on the price of services, with some firms cutting quality to keep costs low. The Law Society has warned that a one-size-fits-all pricing model does not fit with legal services.
Legal issues can be complex; therefore, publishing information that lacks proper context, as proposed by the regulator, could confuse consumers rather than help them.