Hello Cambridge & District, and a Happy New Year to you all. I am Anna Bradley and I am the new Chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Board. I have taken up the reins from Enid Rowlands, who I know looked forward to the opportunity to write for you all. I’m honoured to be passed that baton.
As the new Chair of the Board, I am looking forward to making a difference to how people think about legal services, so they can find the service they need at a price they can afford and the sector can grow and develop
In her last column, Enid spoke about the Price Transparency Rules, which have since come into effect. The rules are part of our work to bridge the gap between the nine out of ten people who need legal services but never access solicitors or barristers, and you, the people best placed to help them.
To recap, we have asked you to publish information on prices you charge and what these cover across a number of common services. If you provide services to members of the public, we want you to give information on conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum). If you count businesses among your clients, this should be debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises. We have published guidance, templates and further information on our website to make life easier for you.
We are certainly not trying to tell you what to charge or what pricing models you should use. And we are not suggesting that you would be committed to a specific price before you have even spoken to a prospective client.
The information is simply to help people understand the basis on which they would be charged and give them an indication of the costs you are likely to charge for a typical case. We are clear that a more detailed discussion with the client about their specific matters and what you do and what you charge would always be needed at the point of engagement.
I hope some of you have considered using our new digital badge? Firms asked us for something they could use to show people what sort of consumer protections they get from using a regulated firm, so we worked with the public and the profession to develop a new badge. It’s voluntary at the moment but we will make it mandatory next year, so that consumers can be really clear about what they are buying.
Taken together, the extra information and the new badge will help people to engage with confidence. It will make law firms and their services less puzzling and much, much more accessible.
I know that many of you are already providing good information for future clients, not least because it gives you a competitive edge. For those of you with more to do, my message is jump in and realise the benefits. Good information is good for firms as well as for the people needing legal services.