SRA Price Transparency Rules – What you need to know

Pricing spelt out in cubes

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority’ (SRA) Price Transparency Rules are set to come into effect in early December 2018. They provide a major change to how law firms must publicise their prices for certain services which they offer to clients and general consumers. This is part of key changes the SRA are carrying out as part of their Looking to the Future programme.

Who are the Price Transparency Rules intended for?

These are intended for law firms who are required to publish information on the prices and the services which they offer to consumers under Rule 1 of the SRA Transparency Rules. Those firms that are not obligated to provide a transparent pricing list may still find the Price Transparency Rules useful.

What are the aims of the new Price Transparency Rules?

The new Price Transparency Rules aim to ensure that before making certain choices regarding legal representation, consumers will be provided with pricing information, to allow them to make the most informed decisions regarding which legal services provider they choose. The aim is that by providing clear pricing details, consumer misunderstandings later in a transaction will be avoided, as a result of transparent information being provided from the onset.

Who will be affected by the new Price Transparency Rules?

All regulated law firms and, subject to LSB approval, all individual freelance solicitors who publish certain legal services will be required to publish pricing information regarding the legal services they provide to consumers.

Which legal services will require published pricing information?

1. Services for members of the public:

  • Residential conveyancing
    • Freehold sales
    • Freehold purchases
    • Leasehold sales
    • Leasehold purchases
    • Mortgages
    • Re-mortgages
  • Probate – uncontested cases where all assets are in the UK
  • Motoring offences – summary only offences
  • Employment tribunals – for claims of unfair or wrong dismissal
  • Immigration – excluding applications for asylum

2. Services for small businesses

  • Debt recovery for up to £100,000
  • Employment tribunals – defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal
  • Licensing applications for business premises – both new or varying existing licenses

What types of price information is required to be published?

  • Pricing
  • A list of services that are included in the price
  • Services which are not included in the price which a consumer might reasonably expect to be included
  • Details of the experience and qualifications of the law firm representatives who will provide the service
  • Typical timescales
  • Key stages of the process

Where must the information be published?

If you have a website:

This must be published in a prominent location on the law firm’s website, and it must be easily accessible and easy for website visitors to find.

If you don’t have a website:

The pricing information must be readily available on request in an easy to read format. Consumers should not be required to provide detailed personal information before they have received the pricing transparency information.

Are the Price Transparency Rules comprehensive?

No, these are simply the minimum requirements and show only the minimum price and service requirements that law firms must provide to consumers. The SRA highlights that these are the minimum requirements, law firms should provide any additional pricing information which would help the consumer to understand the services and the related service costs

What is included in the minimum mandatory requirements?

  • Information must be provided in a prominent place and must be as clear, accurate and understandable as possible for the consumer
  • There must be a clear guidance of what exactly is included in the displayed price
  • The price must state if it includes VAT
  • If a range of prices is published, then a basis for the charges must be set, and this should include all hourly rates or other factors which are considered in determining the final price.
  • If different delivery of services incurs different charges, then this must be made clear to the consumer. For example, face-to-face, vis-à-vis online services
  • If an online quote generator is used, the results must be displayed to the consumer directly without the need for any additional contact, for example a call to discuss the quote – note that if using an online price generator, you are required to be compliant with any relevant data protection legislation which applies to consumer information.

What is not included in the Price Transparency Rules?

  • Law firms are not required to publish binding quotes for all scenarios which you may deal with – the SRA don’t expect law firms to predict the precise details of each client’s individual situation.
  • In the case, an unforeseen complexity arises, it is up to the law firm to inform the client of revised cost information
  • If the client gives the law firm additional work, it is up to the law firm to inform the client of revised cost information.

Does this replace the prior pricing obligations in the SRA Code of Conduct?

No, the existing obligations in the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 remain in effect. Including the requirement that a law firm has the obligation to provide its clients with information regarding the likely overall costs at the time of engagement, and additional updates as the client matter progresses.

What other pricing tips have the SRA provided?

The SRA guidance notes include the following additional pricing tips which law firms may wish to consider:

  • Listing factors which could affect the overall costs
  • Providing an average cost if there is a wide range given
  • Carefully considering how consumers like to interact with pricing information

Are law firms required to list any preferential pricing which they offer to some clients?

No preferential rates offered need to be listed, however, there is nothing preventing law firms mentioning that discounts may be available to specific groups – such as returning customers.

Are you required to give details of conditional fee or damage-based agreements?

If conditional fee or damage-based agreements are used by your law firm, resulting in the law firm wanting to assess the case viability before taking on a client, then there must be clear details on the website of the timeframe of making such an assessment, together with any costs which may be involved in this for the consumer.

Are you required to set out all the legal details of the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) on your website?

No, however, if a CFA style agreement is used, then circumstances, where clients are required to make payments themselves, need to be clearly stipulated.

Are there new regulations regarding publishing service information?

Yes, in addition to prices, the following service information is required to be provided to consumers:

  • A list of services that are included in the price displayed
  • Services which are not included in the price which a consumer might reasonably expect to be included
  • Typical timescale
  • Key stages of the process
  • Details of the experience and qualifications of the law firm representatives who will provide the service, however, there is no requirement to specify the supervision hierarchy – note this does not need to be on the same webpage as pricing information.

Do the SRA recommend any additional published service information?

Yes, the SRA also recommend the following:

  • All technical terms explained in plain English
  • Avoiding the use of legal jargon or complex terminology
  • Providing links to other useful websites if reasonable steps have been taken to ensure accuracy – recommended sites include or
  • Providing information about specialties in a relevant area
  • Providing all information in easier to read formats or different languages

How can law firms begin to prepare for the Price Transparency Rules?

Law firms should:

  1. Consider their potential market and what pricing and service information needs are required by potential consumers.
  2. Consider asking their current clients how they would like to see pricing on the law firm’s website.
  3. Ensure that through the new Price Transparency Rules they are complying with statutory obligations such as not providing any false information, false advertising or bait advertising and ensuring all information is accurate and not misleading.
  4. Consider using the online review services to collect and publish client feedback. This is a useful tool, as it allows you to also receive and deal with negative feedback.
  5. Begin drafting templates relating to both pricing and services models to incorporate as soon as the Price Transparency Rules come into effect (December 2018).
  6. Ensure all staff are trained in the new Price Transparency Rules and are aware of their implications.

Where can I get more training on this and other SRA changes?

VinciWorks will be releasing a course on the SRA changes which are taking place over the next year, including modules on the new SRA Handbook and the new simplified Accounts Rules. If you would like to know more about the training, feel free to get in touch by completing the short contact form below. You can find more information about this course or any other compliance courses offered by VinciWorks at