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Price and service transparency

22 November 2019
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Transparency Rules (the “Rules”) require firms and freelance solicitors providing certain specified legal services to publish information about price, service and regulatory matters. This practice note offers support to solicitors in deciding how to comply with these new requirements. For the purposes of this practice note, “solicitor” includes registered European lawyers (RELs) and registered foreign lawyers (RFLs).

Legal status

Practice notes are issued by the Law Society for the use and benefit of its members. They represent the Law Society's view of good practice in a particular area. They are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You are not required to follow them, but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries and comments on this practice note, contact the Law Society's Practice Advice Service.

SRA Standards and Regulations

The SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 replaced the SRA Handbook (2011) from 25 November 2019. Accordingly, this practice note is relevant to all law firms and sole practitioners authorised by the SRA. It is also relevant to individual solicitors, RELs and RFLs, wherever they practise.

SRA Principles

There are seven mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice. The principles can be found in the SRA Standards and Regulations.

The principles apply to all authorised individuals (solicitors, RELs and RFLs), authorised firms and their managers and employees. They also apply to individuals and the parts of a licensed body involved in delivering the regulated services.

In publicising price and service information, you should consider the following SRA Principles:

  • Principle 2 – act in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons (this means a person who is authorised by the SRA or another approved regulator to carry on a legal activity)
  • Principle 4 – act with honesty
  • Principle 5 – act with integrity
  • Principle 7 – act in the best interests of each client

Professional conduct

The references to paragraphs of the Code in this practice note refer to the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs. The relevant provisions are:

  • 7.1 – you keep up to date with and follow the law and regulation governing the way you work
  • 7.2 – you are able to justify your decisions and actions in order to demonstrate compliance with your obligations under the SRA’s regulatory arrangements
  • 7.10 – you act promptly to take any remedial action requested by the SRA. If requested to do so by the SRA, you investigate whether there have been any serious breaches that should be reported to the SRA

Terminology

Must - A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, regulation or other mandatory provision in the SRA Standards and Regulations. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA’s Regulatory Arrangements.

Should - Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society’s view. In the case of the SRA Standards and Regulations, a non-mandatory provision (such as may be set out in notes or guidance).

These may not be the only means of complying with legislative or regulatory requirements and there may be situations where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to oversight bodies why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, either for your practice, or in the particular retainer.

May - A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations or running your practice. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You may be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to oversight bodies.

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The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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