29 September, 2017
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is urging firms to improve the way they promote the features and quality of their services to help consumers move away from a focus on price alone. This follows recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CLC hopes firms will respond positively to the recommendations from the CMA and that they will take voluntary steps to engage consumers in new ways so that the CLC does not need to introduce new rules.
A CLC consultation launched today – Helping Consumers Choose their Lawyer – Service, Quality and Price Transparency – looks to implement the recommendations made by the CMA last December. These aim to empower consumers with the information they need to choose the right lawyer for them.
The CLC is also proposing that firms publish client feedback either on their own websites, or via Digital Comparison Tools (DCT) and making it mandatory that firms should have to use an estimate generator on their websites or alternatively publish a full price list.
The CLC has revealed too that it is already working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and CILEx Regulation to agree a standard format for the delivery of price estimates for conveyancing and probate work. It is vital that new arrangements apply evenly across all providers of legal services to ensure a level playing field for lawyers and consistent experience for consumers.
CLC Chief Executive Sheila Kumar chairs the Legal Services Remedies Programme Implementation Group, through which the front-line regulators are coordinating their responses to the CMA.
She says: “It is vital to empower consumers and in turn continue to foster competition and innovation in the legal services we regulate. We are also very conscious that this work should not be all about price and we will do what we can to help firms signal the quality of their service to clients.
“The discussions that informed this consultation lead us to believe that private sector solutions for improving the availability and comparability of information on price and service will emerge. So we hope that regulatory action can be limited to setting expectations, monitoring delivery, and promoting and supporting compliance.
“I am looking forward to hearing from people across the legal sector – not just the lawyers and non-lawyers within conveyancing and probate firms, but also organisations providing their IT and marketing and other support – as well as consumers and their representatives.”
The scope of this consultation covers only those legal services regulated by the CLC: conveyancing and probate services.