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SRA Transparency Rules

October 2018

On 30 May 2018, the Board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority approved the SRA Transparency Rules which come into effect in December 2018.

The aim of the new SRA Transparency Rules is to make sure consumers have the information they need to make an informed choice of legal services provider, including understanding what the costs may be.

Not all work types are covered by the SRA Transparency Rules but, as would be expected, many of the most common legal services provided by regulated law firms and freelance solicitors are caught by the new rules. From December 2018, when acting for private individuals, it is likely that regulated firms undertaking residential conveyancing services, probate work, summary motoring offences defence work, representation at employment tribunals and immigration services will need to publish extensive information about the services they provide. As well as information about the prices they charge, they will also need to publish details of the services they will be providing as well as any services not included in the price that might reasonably be expected to be included. SRA regulated firms will also need to disclose publicly the experience and qualifications of those carrying out the work as well as giving typical timescales and key stages of each matter.

This information will also be required to be disclosed by SRA regulated firms providing certain services to businesses. The legal services provided to businesses which trigger disclosure include acting for corporate clients on debt recovery matters up to £100,000, defence work before employment tribunals and licensing applications for business premises.

The information required to be disclosed must be published on the firm's website in a prominent position and clearly signposted. Those without websites are required to provide the information to members of the public upon request.

The SRA Transparency Rules require that the following information about costs must be provided to members of the public:

  • the total cost of the service or, where not practicable, the average cost or range of costs;
  • the basis of a firm's 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;
  • details of what services are included in the price displayed, including the key stages of the matter and likely timescales for each stage and details of any services that might reasonably be expected to be included in the price displayed but are not; and
  • for firms using conditional fee or damages-based agreements, the circumstances in which clients may have to make any payments themselves for the services of the firm including money deducted from any damages.

The SRA have published via their website a detailed guidance note with example templates (see below) which firms may well wish to adopt which will help them to ensure that they are compliant with the new SRA Transparency Rules. It is important to ensure this in place prior to the new Transparency Rules taking effect from the beginning of December 2018.

SRA Transparency Rules Guidance Document

Not sure where to start? We can help you with the drafting of the necessary disclosures to ensure you are compliant with the SRA Transparency Rules. For more information, call Richard Lane now on 0845 6500 112.

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