Conveyancing and probate firms should be required to show an 'estimate generator' on their website or publish a full list of prices, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has suggested, despite insisting that work to promote the quality of services should not solely be about price.
The CLC today said it is already working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and CILEx Regulation to agree a standard format for the delivery of price estimates for conveyancing and probate work.
The regulator has published a consultation to implement recommendations made by the Competition and Markets Authority last year to 'empower' potential clients with the information they need to choose the right lawyer for them.
The CLC proposes that it should be mandatory either to use an estimate generator or publish a price list if the former is disproportionately expensive for 'very small' firms, despite acknowledging firms' 'strong concerns about a race to the bottom' if consumers focus on price alone.
Noting 'very little consistency' in the way firms publish client feedback, the CLC suggests it could set a standard question to be included in all feedback surveys. Firms could be required to publish the results either on their website, marketing materials or digital comparison tools. However, the CLC does not think firms should be forced to publish complaints data.
Sheila Kumar, CLC chief executive, said: 'It is vital to empower consumers and in turn continue to foster competition and innovation in the legal services we regulate. We are also very conscious that this work should not be all about price and we will do what we can to help firms signal the quality of their service to clients.
'The discussions that informed this consultation lead us to believe that private sector solutions for improving the availability and comparability of information on price and service will emerge. So we hope that regulatory action can be limited to setting expectations, monitoring delivery, and promoting and supporting compliance.'
The consultation closes on 29 December.
Meanwhile, CILEx Regulation has started its own 12-week consultation with proposals that potentially go even further than the SRA.
The legal executives regulator will expect firms to publish information on prices, including the charging model; service, including a description of the work included in the price and how long it will take; and consumer redress, including complaints procedures.