Forcing solicitors to publish fees could ‘mislead’ clients

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Jul 10, 2017
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Joe Egan, president of the Law Society, said he was concerned information would be published without proper context

Times photographer Jack Hill

Regulators should scrap plans to force law firms to publicise detailed fees and other information about their services, the new leader of the solicitors’ profession said on Friday.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority – the watchdog for more than 130,000 practising lawyers in England and Wales – backs arguments from the Competition and Markets Authority that legal services pricing must be more transparent. However, the Law Society, the quasi-trade union for solicitors in the jurisdiction, has adamantly opposed the proposals.

Joe Egan, the society’s president, ramped up that opposition on Friday. “Forcing firms to publish a raft of information without proper context has the potential to mislead clients,” he said. “Before introducing more regulation the SRA should demonstrate that the information it seeks to be published will be useful to clients.”

The society also re-emphasised its opposition to a linked proposal from the regulator which would allow solicitors to operate from unregulated entities. It claims that there is an irony in that the SRA has said that unregulated entities will not be forced to publish any information about their business.

“Clients who do not benefit from regulatory protections like insurance have the greatest need for clear information before they make a purchasing decision,” Egan said. “Yet they will not be covered by these new requirements.”

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