A new digital badge that responds to the public’s demand for better information on the protections people get from using a regulated law firm has been launched.
The badge, which has been widely requested by many firms, is part of wider reforms designed to help the public make more informed decisions when choosing a legal provider. New rules requiring law firms to publish information on price, services and their complaints procedures also come into effect today.
Online trials conducted earlier this year involving 1,899 people found that when searching for a legal service provider:
• 79% felt more comfortable selecting providers that displayed a badge
• 86% wanted to have access easy access to informa tion on protections
• Consumers were 14% more likely to buy services from a firm displaying a badge than an identical firm that did not
Underpinned by technology which means it will only display on websites registered to law firms we regulate, the badge will help firms differentiate themselves from unregulated legal services providers.
By clicking on the badge, website visitors will be able to access information outlining the protections offered to clients because the firm is regulated. This includes that the firm meets our standards, have appropriate insurance and access to the Compensation Fund, and that its clients can potentially raise complaints with us or the Legal Ombudsman.
While use of the badge is initially voluntary, it will become mandatory for all SRA-regulated firms later in 2019. The badge and click through information will be available in both English and Welsh.
Paul Philp, SRA Chief Executive, said: “All the evidence shows that people increasingly want to shop around before engaging legal support. They are interested in price, but also want information on quality and protections to be readily available. The more information is available, the more people are able to make good choices.”
“By publishing prices, outlining services and displaying our new badge, regulated law firms will be able to set themselves apart from others and help potential clients to see the benefits they offer.”
December’s implementation of the transparency rules was first announced in June 2018, and further confirmed following Legal Services Board approval of the rules in August.
Under the rules, all regulated law firms will be required, to proactively publish information on prices they charge and what these include, across a number of common services:
• For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (ex cluding asylum).
• For businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.
All regulated law firms are also now required to publish online details of their complaint’s procedures, including explaining how and when a complaint can be escalated to us or the Legal Ombudsman. Detailed guidance and templates designed to help firms understand and comply with the new rules are available on the SRA’s website.
To view more information on the transparency rules, including for law firms how to get the SRA digital badge, go to: www.sra.org.uk/transparency