Sheffield solicitor Jeremy Brooke has called for greater transparency and fairness in the way that law firms charge for their services.
Brooke’s comments have come following a major new survey by the Legal Services Board (LSB) found a serious lack of transparency over the pricing of common legal services. The LSB has said that firms who publish their rates, and the ones who offer fixed fees, are generally cheaper than law firms that do not.
The LSB research also showed big variations in prices, with some firms charging many thousands of pounds for services for which others were paid hundreds and highlighted the potential benefits to consumers in shopping around.
Brooke, who is a partner in Sheffield’s SSB Law, one of the firms who took part in the LSB survey, said that the Legal Ombudsman had already reported that disputes about cost are the major cause of complaints against solicitors. He said that clients were often shocked by overall charges at the end of a case, even though they may have agreed to an hourly rate system of charging at the outset.
“That’s why we believe it makes much better sense to agree a fixed cost with our clients at the outset as it actually assists the law firm just as much as the client,” he said.
He also said that the internet was littered with horror stories about how expensive probate work is.
“The number of personal applications to the probate registry has risen dramatically in the past couple of years and this reflects the fact that lawyers traditionally charge too much for this work,” he said.