Price transparency on SRA radar with compliance declaration

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has launched its latest crackdown on price transparency compliance. The regulator has this week contacted nearly 500 law firms to request completion of a questionnaire and signed declaration the firm is compliant with the SRA Transparency Rules. It has requested the completion of the declaration by 14th August. 

The SRA has also confirmed plans to contact a further 8,000 firms, with disciplinary action and a potential fine with figures around £2,000 already levied on non-compliant firms. For firms without a website, they must still complete the questionnaire and submit it to the SRA.

The SRA has updated its “Transparency in price and service” guidance for fixed fee work.

You are required to publish prices for probate work in relation to uncontested cases where all the assets are in the UK. This includes both testate and intestate and taxable and non-taxable estates however, we recognise that your charging models for these may well differ. You will need to explain anything that could affect the price quoted (e.g. indicating there is a separate cost for preparing tax returns if it is not included) clearly on your website.

You may wish to consider whether you charge different prices based on the value of the estate involved.

The SRA also recommends to;

  • Be clear about any taxes that may be payable, and explain these costs will be additional to the price displayed
  • Avoid providing an estimate figure of the tax payable. Instead, you could provide a link to an online inheritance tax calculator that you trust e.g. HMRC
  • Provide useful links to wider resources, for example sources such as Legal Choices that explain the probate process

Price transparency was introduced following the Competition and Markets Authority 2016 review which concluded there was insufficient information in the public domain for people to make informed choices about legal services. The Rules came into effect on 6 December 2018.

Since November 2019 it is compulsory for all SRA and CLC regulated firms to show the clickable verification logo or digital badge which allows members of the public to easily identify that a website they are visiting belongs to a genuine SRA regulated firm. Clicking on the link also provides consumers with information about how they are protected under the firm’s regulated status.

A copy of the SRA’s communication to firms has kindly been provided by the SRA Press Office

The SRA Transparency Rules came into effect on 6 December 2018. They are designed to make sure consumers have accurate and relevant information about a solicitor or firm, allowing them to make informed choices. The requirement to display the SRA’s clickable logo (also known as the digital badge) came into effect on 25 November 2019, as part of the introduction of the Standards and Regulations. 

We now require your firm’s Compliance Officer for Legal Practice to declare whether you have a website that is compliant with the rules and displays the SRA’s clickable logo.

The deadline for completion of the declaration is close of business on 27 August 2021.   

The link below will take you to the declaration form. It will take around 10 minutes to complete and you will need to ensure the declaration is accurate before submission.

If your firm does not have a website, the declaration must still be completed to record this.

We have produced guidance about how to comply with the rules and our enforcement approach. 

    • To help you understand the rules and how to meet them we have issued guidance, alongside a Q&A.
    • To explain our approach to non-compliance you can view our enforcement strategy and the associated topic guidance.

Click here to view the SRA’s updated guidance.

Click here to view the SRA’s Price Transparency Q&A

 

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