Conveyancers may have to publish fees and spell out the services included

A consultation has been launched into whether conveyancers should be made to publish their fees.

They could also have to publish data on complaints.

The consultation, launched by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, is aimed at helping consumers to shop around and make informed choices when choosing law firms.

The SRA proposals including a register of  law firms, where some would publish information on prices and the services included.

It is suggested that firms would only do this for certain types of work, such as personal injury, wills and conveyancing.

The SRA is also considering publishing data on the complaints that firms receive.

The move comes after the Competition and Markets Authority said the legal services market is not working well for the public or small businesses.

The CMA recommended that better information be made available to create a more competitive market, where people can make more informed choices.

The consultation, at www.sra.org.uk/consultations, is open until December 20.

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6 Comments

  1. Rob Hailstone

    This may mean that they have to disclose the amount of any referral fee being paid to a work introducer, which could prove interesting.

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    1. smile please

      They already do.

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  2. Tim Higham

    Solicitor firms already have to be transparent with their fees (1) right at the start and (2) even splitting out their own profit charges, and separately those of third parties.

    Anything more will lead to the conclusion in the public’s mind that:

    1. conveyancing (wills and personal injury too) is no longer a ‘service’ but a ‘good’ – e.g a tin of beans – where only price separates a law firm (I dont agree that instead the public will question why law firms are different on price…when they could do that already when they receive three quotes.

    2. their particular home move is shoe horned into a ‘one size fits all’ required pricing system, even before the lawyer starts work…in other words “we don’t want you to tell us anything about your move, its the same as everyones, the fee will be £700 +VAT…next customer!”

    The public already seek out multiple quotes upfront. Or, they are herded to a single law firm by the cash bung receiving chain estate agents, so price is not relevant anyway.

    If anything, if publishing price (on literature and websites is mandatory) the lawyers will be so vague on price  so as to allow for variations that it will only lead to more confusion.

    Every single house move is different, especially the ones where either the Agent or the client says ‘this should be straightforward’.

    Previous conveyancing errors and owner created defects/breaches, too, will add to the conveyancing cost. It does now. Even slow conveyancing from the volume conveyancing outfits currently adds more, as I believe some firms charge more (we are beginning to think to do this) when certain volume law firms are opposite…….or certain chain estate agents are involved…….you know the law firms, the ones who the various chain estate agents farm the public too in return for massive cash bungs…..the ones with no solicitors….poor legal training….

    The quality of the legal system in the UK is being undermined all over the place, and this whole idea is just another chip away at it. No good will come from it.

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    1. jeremy1960

      Tim, not every house sale or let is the same from an agents perspective either yet government choose to interfere. The simple solution from our side as a letting agent is that we will avoid the “difficult “properties where landlords maybe unwilling to conform to all legislation and we avoid the prospective tenants that don’t tick all the right boxes. As a result the tenants who we turn away end up renting from the landlords that we have turned away yet we have to publish a fixed/set fee and soon will be unable to charge for a lot of the work we do.

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      1. Tim Higham

        jeremy 1960 – indeed, rock bottom pricing estate agents are undermining the value of having an estate agent, and what they can do, and I do not envy lettings agents and the tortuous job they relieve private landlords from.

        I still hold out that the quality of the individual – conveyancer AND estate/letting agent – will improve as too many defend the status quo, are aggressive in how they communicate or are simply ill trained for the role. We are a social media world now and I hope posts/reviews etc will stamp out mediocre, and then we have no need for external interference…….sky and pie perhaps.

        (‘Difficult properties’ – herm….always like possible ideas…..that is a marketing angle for conveyancers.)

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  3. Fairfax87

    There goes Tim Higham on his righteous soap box again…. illustrating everything that is wrong with arrogant lawyers, who think all faults lie with law firms referred by estate agents, and that Solicitors not paying referral fees are paragons of virtue and great service.

    What a load of rubbish…. how many of these Conveyancing dabblers sit on files doing nothing until a mortgage offer comes in, or refuses to work with estate agents to progress transactions along ?

    Anything involving more transparency seems to terrify these backwoodsmen.

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