Today’s world is all about the expansive display of information and any kind of impediment in this regard is often unacceptable. Based on a market study released by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016 – consumers pointed towards the lack of transparency in the legal services market, particularly in relation to quality, service, and price. To address such a grievance in an industry which is taken in high regard by any country the SRA (or the Solicitors Regulation Authority) released new guidelines to regulate pricing across the legal service framework.
SRA Price Transparency rule has been set out (as on December 2018) to provide the consumer with an illustrative pricing structure for him to make an informed decision while choosing the most appropriate legal services for himself.
Price Transparency Competition
SRA along with the points raised by the Legal Services Consumer Panel and LSB have identified several prices and quality related discrepancies, hence the announcement of SRA Price Transparency Rules. These rules are designed to create a standardized mechanism across all legal channels and thus enabling the consumer with a huge advantage of having a choice in costing as well as quality. This framework has further reduced the price transparency competition in the commercial space.
Price Transparency Context
The SRA pricing framework applies to services like residential conveyancing, uncontested transfer, motoring or vehicle offences, wrongful discharge of employees, debt recovery procedures, immigration, as well as licensing procedures involved in the setup of businesses.
According to The Law Society gazette-news, the context of the price transparency rule is to have the information to be made available to the public in a format which is easy to decipher. To be precise, this framework has been designed for companies to provide honest and complete:
– Pricing information in its entirety,
– Fee disbursal information (if any),
– Information on any VAT or related taxes,
– Information on when the consumer owes a damage-free payment to the company.
Along with SRA, CLC (or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers) have also set forth certain policies that keep a check on every law firm in the country. Both SRA and CLC Price Transparency guidelines are meant to create a high service value for consumers across all channels of legal consultations. These guidelines are generously approved by the Legal Services Board (or LSB)
SRA Regulatory and Compliance Requirements
According to the contents displayed in version 21 of the SRA handbook Rule no. 19 an authorized body (including managers and employees of the law firm) must always adhere to the regulatory arrangements mentioned in the SRA code of conduct. This rule also applies to the solicitor, REL or RFL (as per the UK law society), as well as the shareholder of a company must refrain from any event of infringement acts that fall within the bracket of SRA’s regulatory arrangements or framework.
It may have come as a shock to many practising law firms (public as well as private) for they must now comply with the new set of rules released by SRA and many of these firms are finding themselves in a panic situation. However, the organizing committee of the SRA guidelines has clearly stated that the amendments of the new set of rules are not for the companies to feel threatened but to help them create a state of transparency in the marketplace. To assist the various law firms, SRA officials will help remind the companies of the timely adherence to the rules rather than taking forced regulatory action on them.