The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Transparency Rules are coming into force in December 2018. Under these new Rules, if your law firm provides any of the following legal services to individuals or businesses you must publish information on your website about the prices you charge and what these cover:

  • Services to individuals: residential conveyancing, uncontested UK probate and estate administration, immigration applications (excluding asylum), minor motoring offences and employment tribunals (employee claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal)

  • Services to businesses: debt recovery (up to £100,000), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises

In addition, you also must publish your complaints handling procedure on your website, including details about how to make a complaint, and ensure your regulatory status is prominently displayed (both on your website and on letterheads/emails). You must ensure that all this information is clear, accessible and easy to find. If you don’t have a website, you need to ensure this information is available upon request in another format.

Our LexisPSL Practice Compliance experts have produced a checklist to help you navigate the price and service, complaints and regulatory status transparency requirements.

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A: Scope of price transparency regime

You should determine whether you offer services that are caught by the price transparency regime.

References:
SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1

  • the price transparency requirements apply only in relation to services that you ‘publish’ as being available from your firm, ie to services that you overtly offer

  • whether or not you are caught by the price transparency regime, all firms must comply with the complaints and regulatory transparency requirements—see: C: Complaints and regulatory transparency below

Requirement Compulsory or recommended? Comments (if any)
  • Determine whether you offer residential conveyancing services to individuals, ie the conveyance of residential real property or real estate which comprise:

  • freehold or leasehold sales or purchases, or

  • mortgages or remortgages

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Residential conveyancing.

Compulsory
You will need to establish whether you offer these services to ascertain whether the price transparency requirements apply. (SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1.3)

  • Determine whether you offer non-contentious probate and estate administration services to individuals, ie the collection and distribution of assets belonging to a person following their death, where:

  • the assets are within the UK, and

  • the matters are not contested

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Probate and estate administration.

Compulsory
As above

  • Determine whether you offer services to individuals in relation to immigration applications, ie the preparation and submission of immigration applications, excluding asylum applications.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Immigration applications (excluding asylum).

Compulsory
As above

  • Determine whether you offer services to individuals in relation to immigration appeals, ie providing advice and representation at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in relation to appeals against Home Office visa or immigration decisions, excluding asylum appeals.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Immigration applications (excluding asylum).

Compulsory
As above

  • Determine whether you offer services to individuals in relation to simple motoring offences, ie providing advice and representation at the Magistrates Court in relation to summary only road traffic offences dealt with at a single hearing.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Motoring offences.

Compulsory
As above

  • Determine whether you offer services to individuals in relation to employment tribunal claims, ie providing advice and representation to employees in relation to the bringing of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Employment tribunals.

Compulsory
As above

Requirement Compulsory or recommended? Comments (if any)
  • Determine whether you offer services to business in relation to employment tribunal claims, ie providing advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Employment tribunals.

Compulsory
You will need to establish whether you offer these services to ascertain whether the price transparency requirements apply. (SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1.4)

(Insert any comments you may wish to make regarding your firm’s arrangements)

  • Determine whether you offer services to business in relation to debt recovery—up to the value of £100,000.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Debt recovery.

Compulsory
As above

  • Determine whether you offer services to business in relation to licensing, ie advice and assistance and representation in relation to licensing applications for business premises.

See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Licensing.

Compulsory
As above

Requirement Compulsory or recommended? Comments (if any)
  • Determine whether any services that you offer which may otherwise be caught by the price transparency regime are, in fact publicly funded (ie funded by legal aid).

Recommended
Publicly funded work (legal aid) is exempt from the transparency regime. (SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1.2)

(Insert any comments you may wish to make regarding your firm’s arrangements)

Once you have determined which services (if any) you offer are caught by the price transparency regime, you should consider the information requirements. See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Price and service transparency—information requirements.

Requirement Compulsory or recommended? Comments (if any)
  • In relation to services caught by the price transparency regime, ensure you provide the following information:

  • total cost of the service or, where not practicable, the average cost or range of costs

  • basis for your charges, including any hourly rates or fixed fees

  • the experience and qualifications of anyone carrying out the work, and of their supervisors

  • a description of, and the cost of, any likely disbursements, and where the actual cost of a disbursement is not known, the average cost or range of costs

  • whether any fees or disbursements attract VAT and if so the amount of VAT they attract

  • what services are included in the price displayed, including the key stages of the matter and likely timescales for each stage

  • any services that might reasonably be expected to be included in the price displayed, but are not

  • if you use conditional fee or damages based agreements, the circumstances in which clients may have to make any payments themselves for your services (including from any damages)

Compulsory, in relation to services caught by the price transparency regime
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1.5)

(Insert any comments you may wish to make regarding your firm’s arrangements)

  • Ensure the costs information is:

  • clear and accessible

  • located in a prominent place on your website (or if you do not have a website, is available on request), and

  • where appropriate, does not apply to publicly funded work

Compulsory, in relation to services caught by the price transparency regime
Save that there is no requirement to explicitly exclude publicly funded work, but doing so will promote transparency.
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, rr 1.2, 1.6 and 3.1)

This section of the checklist applies to all firms, regardless of the services they offer and to who. See Practice Note: Price and service transparency—law firms—Complaints and regulatory transparency—all firms.

Requirement Compulsory or recommended? Comments (if any)
  • Provide details of your complaints handling procedure including details about how and when a complaint can be made to the Legal Ombudsman and to the SRA.

Compulsory for all firms, for all work types
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 2.1)

(Insert any comments you may wish to make regarding your firm’s arrangements)

  • Ensure this complaints information is:

  • clear and accessible, and

  • located in a prominent place on your website (or if you do not have a website, is available on request)

Compulsory
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 1.6 and r 3.1)

  • Display, in a prominent place on your website:

  • your SRA number and

  • the SRA’s digital badge

Compulsory for all firms, for all work types
In the case of an alternative business structure, these must be displayed in a prominent place on the website relating to legal services, if separate.
The digital badge is, however, not yet available. The SRA is planning to develop and implement the digital badge during 2019. In the interim, the SRA has said it will make sure the right information to aid choice is available on its website, it will help firms to direct consumers to this information and use its own social media activity to direct traffic to it.
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 4.1)

  • Show, on letterhead and emails:

  • your SRA authorisation number and

  • the words ‘authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’

Compulsory for all firms, for all work types
(SRA, draft Transparency Rules, r 4.2)

Lexis®PSL Practice Compliance

This checklist has been taken from LexisPSL Practice Compliance. LexisPSL Practice Compliance is an online service designed to make risk and compliance easier to manage, whatever the size of your firm. It comes with everything you need to get your compliance house in order and keep it that way. It provides you with access to an unbeatable range of practical guidance, templates, flowcharts, checklists and other time-saving tools. From the SRA to DPA, LeO, SOCA or ICO – we’ve got it covered. All links in red are only available to subscribers of LexisPSL Practice Compliance. Contact us to find out more, call 0330 161 1234.

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