The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has submitted an application to the Legal Services Board (LSB) to amend its rules and require licensed firms to improve information to support consumer choice.
The changes aim to empower consumers to make better informed decisions about their choice of legal service provider. The new requirements also aim to foster innovation and competition in the legal services market.
CLC practices will be required to make cost information, including whether they have referral arrangements, readily accessible on their website and in alternative formats on request. It will be up to firms to decide how they wish to achieve this, but the CLC will publish best practice guidance along with cost estimate templates, to ensure quotes are comprehensive and comparable.
Pricing information is just one element of what goes into choosing a lawyer. The CLC wants to encourage greater transparency for consumers on service standards and increase the opportunity for CLC practices to differentiate themselves from competitors and appeal to clients on other grounds. As such, part of the proposed changes will require firms to make available on their website standard information about:
- The services they provide;
- Key stages in the delivery of those services; and
- Indicative timescales
Sheila Kumar, Chief Executive of the CLC says: “Under our existing Rules the firms we license already have to provide clear cost information to clients. These changes mean that consumer will have access to information before they decide who to use, so giving them additional and clearer information upon which to base their decision.
“Providing clear information to customers makes good business sense. CLC-licensed firms should see the changes as providing them with new opportunities to create a competitive advantage as they focus on service and quality.
“The rules set out what firms have to do, but all CLC licensed firms are different, so they will be free to comply with the rules in the way that best suits their business and their clients.
“These rule changes implement recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority and all legal sector regulators are introducing a similar approach to ensure consistency across all regulated sectors.”
The full application can be viewed on the Legal Services Board website. Subject to its approval, the new rules should be in place by the end of 2018.