The Law Society of Scotland is asking the legal profession and consumer bodies for their views on price transparency for legal services.
The consultation, Price transparency – promoting consumer choice, aims to stimulate discussion within the legal profession and among other stakeholders, including consumer-interest groups, and is seeking views on the benefits and challenges of price transparency – if a lack of openness is detrimental to the consumer and competition with the legal services market and the factors which may already be driving change.
Scottish solicitors are required to provide specific information to clients, including an estimate of the total fee or the basis upon which the fee will be charged, plus VAT and foreseeable outlays. However, there is no requirement for solicitors or firms to publish pricing information proactively and in advance of any client requests, although firms can promote their firms’ services as they see fit, including on pricing.
The Law Society consultation is in response to issues raised in a Competition and Markets Authority report, which has stated that the lack of accessible information on pricing by legal services providers is a ‘significant hurdle’ for consumers and that the lack of transparency weakens competition between providers and means that some consumers do not obtain legal advice when they would benefit from it. The CMA view was that increasing transparency of price, service and quality was essential for consumers to get a better deal.
Carole Ford, non-solicitor convener of the Law Society of Scotland Regulatory Committee, said: “The Competition and Markets Authority takes the view that legal services regulators, such as ourselves, should require price information to be published to stimulate competition in the market. Before we can even consider such a step, we want to engage with our membership, the wider legal services sector and those representing consumers to gather a wide range of views to inform the direction of our work.
Read more about the Price Transparency Consultation
The deadline for response submission is 11.59pm on Monday 13 August 2018.