Consumers can benefit by comparing the price of legal services

Consumers can benefit by comparing the price of legal services

The Legal Service Board has published its second report into the prices of individual consumer legal services.

The report provides an analysis of a recently conducted survey of prices quoted for commonly used legal services: a) conveyancing; b) family; and c) wills, trusts and probate.

Neil Buckley, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board said:

“This important research helps us understand more about what individual consumers are likely to pay for certain commonly used legal services. The findings help us understand changes in prices over time and provide insights into the extent of competition between providers, as well as affordability and access to justice for consumers.

 

Previous research has shown that price is a key factor in determining whether or not individual consumers opt to use legal services and, if they do, which ones they choose. This research however demonstrates the need for more price transparency in the legal services market. This is why the current consultations by the legal regulators on how to achieve more and better information are so important.”

The key findings from the 2017 survey of prices are:

  • Fixed fees are cheaper than other forms of charging in all three market segments
  • Firms based in the South East are on average a third more expensive than those based elsewhere
  • Shopping around really pays. Savings to consumers range from 17% to over 400% of average weekly income (between £80 and over £2,000) comparing the lower and upper quartile quoted prices
  • There appears to be a relationship between prices and regulation. For example in conveyancing, the average prices quoted by licensed conveyancers are lower than those quoted by solicitors

The LSB state that there has been no change in the proportion of firms displaying prices on their website between 2015 and 2017 (18%), pointing to a continued lack of information not enabling consumers to easily shop around. Only a relatively small number of providers currently plan to change this practice by displaying prices on their websites in future

For those firms which reported increasing their prices in the 2017 survey, 29% cited an increase in the cost of overheads or staff as the main reason, and 26% stated they were responding to increases in other providers’ prices, and

Firm based differences, not captured in the survey, appear to account for a large part of the differences in prices quoted. Differences in methods of service delivery do not appear to be key factors in explaining price differences.

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