Thousands of law firms will be asked this week to declare to their regulator that they are complying with transparency rules.

The Solicitors Regulations Authority is writing to 8,000 firms asking them to confirm they are meeting obligations which have been in place for approaching three years.

Transparency rules came into force in December 2018 requiring firms to publish on their website details of prices for certain services and information about the experience and credentials of those who would be providing that service. A year later, a new requirement was added which obliged firms to display the SRA’s new digital badge.

Firms will be told that their compliance officers must declare they have a website that is compliant with the rules and displays the logo. The deadline for completion of the declaration, which is supposed to take around 10 minutes, is the close of business on 27 August. Even firms which do not have a website must complete a declaration. 

SRA badge

Firms must declare they have a site that is compliant with the rules and displays the SRA’s digital badge

It is not clear what the sanctions, if any, will be for firms that do not comply with the new declaration.

This summer, 13 firms have been fined for failing to make a declaration in time that they were complying with anti-money laundering regulations, although in all cases those sanctioned had waited at least a year to complete the task.

At the start of this year, the regulator issued a number of fines and rebukes to nine firms for failing to comply with transparency rules. These breaches dated back to last summer and marked the SRA stepping up its enforcement approach.

The SRA has said it does not want to interfere in what firms charge, but wants information to be made readily available so that members of the public and businesses can make informed choices when they seek legal help.

Transparency requirements were brought in after the Competition and Markets Authority looked at the legal profession in 2016 and found that consumers were not in the best position to decide which lawyer to instruct, with insufficient information provided in advance on prices and service levels.


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