The regulators are not the first to advance the case for transparency regarding legal costs (see news, p3).
In 1994, Davies Arnold Cooper (as it then was) published a Protocol on Costs and Client Services. It listed the firm’s menu of prices; explained what it did and did not charge for; and expressed a willingness to provide estimates to any stage of a matter and to quote a fixed total cost and timescale where possible.
The firm was responding positively and in a consumer-friendly way at a time when legal pricing was being (as now) widely questioned.
The Guardian, better known for its championing of the consumer than the legal profession, said: ‘A mere one and a half centuries after Charles Dickens’ Bleak House satirised the costs and procrastination of lawyers in the case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, a leading City law firm has become the first to publish a tariff of fees and customers’ charter.’
Very few, if any, of DAC’s competitors followed suit by setting out their prices in a general and public way. They continued to confine themselves to quoting privately on individual jobs or to individual clients.
What a shame that it has become necessary 23 years later for DAC’s initiative to be relaunched by regulators with – again – negative responses.
David McIntosh QC (Hon), Senior partner, DAC 1978-2006; past president, The Law Society; consultant, Warrens Law & Advocacy, London W2