The Government has backed a review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that called for more competition and transparency in legal services such as conveyancing.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has taken a whole year to respond to the CMA report, which was actually published in December 2016 and called for solicitors to display and explain their fees and services more clearly.
The MoJ noted that in the time it had taken to respond, legal regulators had already put in place work to improve transparency, which it said would be monitored before any wider changes are made.
Responding to the CMA on behalf of the Government, Lord Keen of Elie said: “The study identified that a lack of transparency and consumer understanding, particularly in pricing, service and quality, as well as the range of services available, may be preventing effective consumer choice, impacting on the effective functioning of the market.
“You made a number of detailed recommendations to the regulators to address these issues including, but not limited to, the requirement that they should revise their regulatory requirements and guidance to ensure a minimum level of transparency and to improve the quality and prominence of information on providers’ websites, including information on price, service, redress and regulatory status.
“I am aware that the legal services regulators had previously recognised and begun to address these issues.”
Sheila Kumar, chief executive of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, welcomed the Government support, adding: “The support from the MoJ for the CMA’s recommendations on price and service information should leave the legal sector in no doubt about the importance of implementing the CMA’s recommendation.
“Work on the transparency of price and service information is progressing well between the regulators.
“It is really important that all of the regulators in the legal services market work together towards a whole-of-market solution.”