Price transparency rules for conveyancers now live, but will they create ‘race to the bottom’?

All licensed conveyancers must now display their fees and work timescales as part of new regulations that went live yesterday.

Legal practices that are part of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers are now required to make cost information, including whether they have referral arrangements, readily accessible on their website and in alternative formats on request.

They will also have to disclose the services they provide, key stages in the delivery of them and indicative timescales.

The move has been broadly welcomed by trade bodies including the Conveyancing Association as well regulators at the Solicitors Regulation Authority and industry technology provider Search Acumen.

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, said: “This is a big step in making the industry more competitive and ultimately serves as a fantastic opportunity to allow practitioners to prove their worth in the marketplace.

“We now expect to see online price comparison services, either operated by conveyancers or a third party, where house buyers can get accurate pricing estimates for the fees they’ll have to pay based on their address. Again, this could be a huge business driver for switched-on firms.

“Competition in the sector has truly begun to bite as hundreds of conveyancers have been forced to close their doors over the last five years. Therefore, it has never been more vital that firms find a competitive  edge and ensure they are offering market-leading services.”

But some legal firms have warned against price transparency causing a “race to the bottom”.

Suman Dally, partner at Shoosmiths, said: “Price transparency will not fix the current challenges with the conveyancing industry.

“As conveyancers, we need to be more consumer aware in our dealings with clients, and be more inward looking.

“We need to review our processes and procedures and invest in technology to offer consumers better, digital access to information, to enhance the home buying process – something price transparency will not change.

“Price is also only one metric to enable consumers to make an informed choice. Fee transparency in isolation does not enable clients to make informed choices based upon the capability of the firm being considered, its service or claims record.”

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9 Comments

  1. Rob Hailstone

    The new Pricing and Transparency Rules do not just apply to Licensed Conveyancing firms regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers but also to solicitor firms that carry our conveyancing that are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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  2. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    Due to the sheer volume of required content the new rules have buried the whole point in waffle.

    All that now happens from 6th December 2018 is that firms now have is a new a boring looking webpage with a heck of a lot of text to read through ….which the public won’t want to read, as the rules do not (nor could) require lawyers to provide a one size fits all price.

    I’ve read ours, and I have read many other law firms’.

    Just visit the webpages of law firms to see for yourself.

     

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  3. ArthurHouse02

    The irony of Shoosmiths talking about being consumer aware, they are an awful company to deal with in my experience

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  4. MichaelDay

    Whilst I welcome transparency in every case – with the volume of different referred schemes putting work into conveyancers – they will end up having to put a high fee scale on their website – like letting agents with landlord/tenant fees – and the reality of what is charged will be somewhat less.

    Any conveyancer quoting a lower fee that they charge on introduced work is going to be biting off the hand that feeds them.

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  5. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    This is the sorry state in which the conveyancing industry finds itself.
     
    Panel managers pushing the crack cocaine of volume onto weak and vulnerable lawyers, whose lack of confidence and self-esteem feeds the bank balances of these anti-consumer and anti-competitive lead processors.
     
    I note that there is no requirement to display the numbers of pieces of silver that are paid to these companies which is an opportunity missed to drive out this industry blight.

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  6. Simon Brown at The ESTAS

    Conveyancers need to focus on service levels to differentiate themselves from the competition to avoid the ‘race to the bottom’.

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  7. Fairfax87

    Pompous Peter  on his boring soapbox again… .. lets blame everything on panel managers … how dare estate agents expect referral fees… lets say all Solicitors taking work from panel managers are weak and vulnerable …what a load of b*llshit.    There are good and bad out there, however you receive your work.

    With Licensed Conveyancers, there IS a requirement to disclose if you have referral arrangements on their websites, and a requirement to reference this in their quotations. Do you, Peter, transparently disclose the pieces of silver that you pay to your introducers ?

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    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Fairfax87

      Just to clarify – this is not a discussion about referral fees, which we pay and disclose to our clients.

      This is not idle or prejudiced speculation – my sources of information are;

      1. Interviews and hiring lawyers from tied panel firms

      2. Meetings with former panel managers

      3. Feedback from over 100 estate agents who witness at first hand the impact of high-volume conveyancers

      The evidence is overwhelming that where panel managers dictate low fees, there is direct impact on the quality and performance of delivery.

      Suffice to say, we have been collating panel manager fees and are combining this with the data of caseloads of lawyers and are planning to release this information into the public domain in 2019.

      Peter

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  8. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    (Fairfax87 – why are you brining aggression and rudeness to this website?)
     
    Looking at more solicitor firms’ transparency narrative many are not complying with the requirements at all, and many leave out required information. 

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