Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) of Ireland proposals to increase transparency in conveyancing services

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) of Ireland has published a report proposing significant reforms to enhance competition, efficiency, and transparency in conveyancing services. The reforms focus on three main areas: digitalising the conveyancing system, introducing enhanced transparency requirements for solicitors regarding costs, and increasing consumer awareness to facilitate informed decision-making.

The LSRA advocates for a transition to an electronic conveyancing (e-conveyancing) system, requiring substantial action from the government and local authorities. Despite the complexity and cost of this shift, the LSRA stresses its importance for modernising the conveyancing process. Legal services stakeholders are encouraged to adopt digital technology to streamline processes and improve service delivery.

In addition to digitalisation, the LSRA highlights the need for enhanced price transparency in conveyancing services. Currently, a lack of comparative cost information hinders consumers’ ability to make informed choices. To address this, the LSRA proposes granting statutory powers to introduce mandatory transparency requirements for solicitors, making pricing information more accessible and understandable, thus enabling consumers to compare prices and select the best service providers.

The LSRA also plans to lead national awareness campaigns with various stakeholders to educate consumers about conveyancing services, costs, and options. Increased awareness is expected to empower consumers, allowing them to navigate the conveyancing market more effectively.

The LSRA’s recommendations are based on comprehensive research by Indecon Research Economists and a national survey by Ipsos Ireland. The research included a review of conveyancing systems in other jurisdictions, a survey of solicitors, and an analysis of public consultation submissions. The Ipsos survey revealed high levels of satisfaction (93%) among consumers with conveyancing services, with over 50% indicating that more online processes could save time, highlighting the demand for digitalisation.

The Indecon report found significant gaps in cost transparency and noted that many legal firms have yet to adopt significant technology in their practices. The LSRA underscores the importance of technology adoption to modernise and enhance service delivery.

Evaluating the feasibility of creating a new conveyancer profession, the LSRA concluded that it would only be viable if accompanied by broader reforms. The risks, regulatory costs, and barriers are too significant without first implementing digitalisation, cost transparency, and competition-enhancing measures. The LSRA believes successful implementation of these reforms could create conditions conducive to reconsidering the new profession in the future.

In conclusion, the LSRA’s recommendations aim to create a more efficient, transparent, and competitive conveyancing market in Ireland. By prioritising digitalisation, enhancing price transparency, and increasing consumer awareness, the proposed reforms are expected to protect and empower consumers while promoting competition. These recommendations have been submitted to the Minister for Justice, marking a significant step toward reforming conveyancing services in Ireland.

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