Guidance for Solicitors in Scotland around price transparency is set to come into effect in January 2021. Under the new guidance, firms will be required to publish indicative price information about their services. The guidance will not apply to firms that solely undertake legal aid work or those which provide legal services to businesses, and was originally published shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, due to the ongoing challenges raised by the pandemic, it was delayed until 2021.
Craig Cathcart, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland Regulatory Committee, said: “The past six months have been exceptionally challenging for the legal profession and the Regulatory Committee decided to delay the introduction of the guidance to allow firms to respond to the immediate issues presented by Covid-19. It is important however, that as we continue to adapt to the current environment, we also progress key areas of work.
The guidance has been developed to improve price transparency and encourages solicitors to proactively publish information to help people seeking legal services make better-informed choices. Whether someone is thinking of buying a new home, wants to make a will or set up a power of attorney, or they may have separated from a partner or have an employment problem, we hope members of the public will be able to get a better idea of the typical costs involved in such cases early on.
As well as increasing clarity for consumers, it can help improve access to justice. A report published by the Competition and Markets Authority on the legal services market in England and Wales a few years ago indicated that some people are put off seeking professional legal advice altogether as they are worried about price. This could ultimately cost them even more – financially and emotionally – if left unresolved.”