Small businesses and individuals who need legal advice on issues ranging from conveyancing to employment or immigration will be able to find regulated information from law firms about their fees and services, the Law Society of England and Wales said as new rules came into force.
“Many people seek legal advice at key moments in their life. Helping them make informed choices about the best way to resolve their legal problems is at the heart of our work,” Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said.
From 6 December 2018, firms must publish price and service information on their websites for the following areas of law:
- individual customers: residential conveyancing, probate, immigration (except asylum), road traffic offences, and employment tribunal claims (unfair/wrongful dismissal)
- business customers: employment tribunal claims (unfair/wrongful dismissal), debt recovery (up to £100,000), and licensing applications for business premises
Firms will be required to publish the total cost of services (or the average costs or range of costs), the basis of charges, key stages of the process and probable timeframes, any likely disbursements (and whether they include VAT) and the experience and qualifications of anyone carrying out the work.
Christina Blacklaws added: “Few legal problems are one-dimensional. Individual circumstances shape each case and so the advice each client needs will vary.
“Law Society research shows people’s priorities and decisions change as a legal situation escalates – the experience of their solicitor, and regulatory protections, were valued over cost the more difficult or complex an issue became. And the complexity of a case is not always apparent at the outset so it’s not possible to foresee every contingency on day one.
“Our advice to consumers is to make decisions about the legal services you use based on a balance of considerations. Price is of course important, but so also are the range and quality of services you get for your money, and the client protections offered by the provider.”