12th December 2018
From December 6th 2018 all solicitors dealing with certain types of consumer law have been required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to publish their prices, details of who will be doing the work and how long a matter is expected to take.
There has been lots of criticism from solicitors about the merits of the new rules and how useful they may be for clients practically, but we feel that it is a good thing if it helps our clients to feel reassured about our services.
The SRA has said that some people or businesses with legal problems don’t seek legal advice because they think that a solicitor and the legal process will be too expensive. If you feel like this and want to check what we would charge please ask us – we don’t charge for quotations and if we can’t help you with your issue we will try to point you to another legal service provider that can help.
Consumers are more savvy now and we find that many of our clients contact several firms of solicitors to check prices before checking our prices, discussing their matter with us and then deciding to instruct us.
Most of our clients feel that their legal matter is unique to them. They feel they need understanding of their issues and a bespoke quote before making a decision on which solicitor to use. After all, buying a house can’t be compared to walking into a shop to buy a television.
When you buy a television you can see that it is value for money, the one that you want and that it works immediately. With any kind of service you may not be able to realise the benefits for may years because you can’t sometimes see what the benefits have been. For instance, if you are purchasing a house, you need to feel sure that the solicitor acting for you has done it properly. You don’t want problems with the title, lease or boundaries or to find that it has not been registered properly several years later, perhaps just when you want to sell it! This is why you need to use a trusted professional – someone who will get it right for you without any stress or trouble.
Our clients don’t choose to use us only on the basis of price – our clients instruct us because;
- They want to use a firm with a good reputation for quality work
- They can contact their solicitor easily and can meet with their solicitor
- Our lawyers are qualified and experienced in the work they do
- We hold LEXCEL and CQS quality marks
- They want to use a firm where there is an extremely low level of complaints and if we receive a complaint we do our best to put things right.
- We listen and respond
- We take care of our clients
Many solicitors worry that advertising the cost of legal services may not reflect the true price of work due to the complexity of the issue and what happens when new information comes to light that changes the nature of the instructions and the price initially quoted.
If this happens, we explain properly to our clients why the extra work is required, provide full costs information and seek approval before going ahead. Our clients know what they are being charged.
We find that most of our clients use our services because they have used us before and know that we charge very reasonably for the level of service we provide. Our clients are very satisfied with us and many of our clients recommend us to their family and friends.
We are not the most expensive of solicitors but neither are we the cheapest.
We always ask for as much information as possible from our clients at the outset so we can provide a quotation for the work that is as accurate as possible based on the information we have been given at that time. If additional work is necessary we advise why it is necessary and how much it will cost before proceeding.
We offer fixed fees for some matters and charge other matters by the time it takes.
If we are charging by an hourly rate we always try to give an estimate at the outset as to how many hours we expect it will take us to complete the work.
If the matter takes a lengthy time we try to bill as we go along which helps spread the cost for our clients.
We explain third party disbursements and give their costs from the outset. A disbursement is a cost incurred during a legal matter that is charged by a third party, i.e. a court fee or land registry fee that we have to pay to progress a matter. Our clients pay disbursements at cost price.
In our initial client care letter we explain what work we have been instructed to carry out, our pricing and give more information relevant to the instructions, for instance, how to complain about our services if things go wrong and how we protect data.
When we publish price information on our website, the SRA says, must be presented in a ‘clear and easy to understand format’, providing a total cost or, if this is not possible, an average or range of costs.
It is not easy to set out this complex pricing information on website pages without providing lots of other information, but we have done our best to ensure that this information is presented as clearly and concisely as possible for our conveyancing and probate work.
We welcome comments from our clients as to whether our average pricing information is set out clearly and helpfully on our website, in our quotations and in our client care letters. If you would like to contact us with comments please email us.