Transparency Rules and Guidance
The CILEx Regulation Transparency Rules (Transparency Rules) came into force on 14 January 2019.
The Transparency Rules apply to our regulated firms providing legal services as set out at Annex A to the Transparency Rules. The initial legal services are residential conveyancing and or probate.
The rules mandate the information that firms must publish and firms have the flexibility to implement the requirements to best meet the needs of their business and clients.
We have provided Transparency Guidance which provides suggestions on how firms could provide information with optional presentations and templates which will assist firms as they apply the new Rules.
The Guidance also explains the benefits that transparency of information can offer for both businesses and consumers. While the Rules set out the minimum information that firms must provide, CILEx Regulation encourages its firms to provide such additional information that they consider will help consumers understand the legal services they offer.
You can find the CILEx Regulation Transparency Rules here and the Transparency Guidance here.
CILEx Regulation has been granted approval by the Legal Services Board (LSB) to make changes to its regulatory arrangements to introduce new Transparency Rules.
The aim of our Transparency Rules is for consumers to have the information that they need, at the time that they are choosing legal services, so they can make an informed decision about which provider to instruct. This includes information about service and price.
Helen Whiteman, Chief Executive Officer of CILEx Regulation, said: “We are pleased that the LSB has approved our Transparency Rules which will come into force at the beginning of January 2019. The provision of clearer information will assist consumers to make informed choices about legal services providers and help our firms to connect with consumers.
We will be publishing the final version of our guidance next week and encourage our firms to use it. We are also planning further communications during the remainder of 2018 to support our firms with their adoption of our Transparency Rules.”
Our regulated firms will be required to publish information on price, service, complaints procedure and regulatory status on the Home page or via a link from the Home page of their website in a format that is clear, easy to find and understand. If a firm does not have a website, they are required to make the information available on request. It will be for firms to decide how they wish to publish the information required by the Transparency Rules and our guidance aims to support our firms as they make the necessary changes.
See at a glance how our approach pieces together.
In 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) carried out a study of the provision of legal services. Its final report in December 2016 concluded that the legal services market is not working well for individual consumers and small businesses. There is not enough information available on price, quality and service to help consumers who need help to choose the best legal services option.
The CMA recommended that the legal service regulators:
- ensure that firms offering legal services display information on price, service, redress and regulatory status openly on their websites;
- improve and promote the existing Legal Choices website so that it becomes a starting point for customers needing help to navigate the market and purchase services;
- make more regulatory data available to facilitate the development of reliable comparison sites;
- encourage legal service providers to engage with feedback and review platforms to ensure that customers can benefit from the experience of previous consumers before making their choice.
The work by the legal services regulators to take forward the CMA’s recommendations is being overseen by the “Remedies Programme Implementation Group”.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel findings
The Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP) provides evidenced-based advice to the Legal Services Board (LSB) to help it make decisions that are shaped around the needs of consumers. You can read the LSCP’s insight on market transparency in legal services, prepared from their own Tracker survey data and published in November 2017.
Consumers need information about price, service, how to complain and regulatory protections so they can make informed decisions when choosing a legal firm. We recognise the lack of provision of this information by legal firms and we are committed to working to increase transparency for consumers.
We published our action plan in June 2017.
Our consultation on proposals to roll out transparency of price, service, redress and regulatory status, initially in conveyancing and will writing closed on 21 December 2017. In response to that consultation we decided to take forwards our transparency of information work by:
1. Developing high level Rules governing transparency for consumers on price, service, and redress, with supporting guidance on possible templates with some key information (guidance not to be a regulatory arrangement);
2. Initially rolling out these requirements to firms providing residential conveyancing and/or probate;
3. Requiring, through new Transparency Rules, that regulated firms display on their website, or make available at their premises, if no website available:
a) full price, including what services are included in that price;
b) information about what services the firm offers;
c) professional indemnity insurance and compensation arrangements information;
d) information about the complaints procedure and the Legal Ombudsman;
e) digital smart logos, which will include website and verification of regulation by CILEx Regulation plus confirmation that professional indemnity insurance and compensation arrangements are available; and
4. Aiming to introduce the new Transparency Rules, with guidance, in January 2019.
Between 22 June and 3 August 2018, we consulted on our proposed Transparency Rules seeking views on the interpretation and implementation of our proposed rules and included our draft guidance. Having considered the responses, we have published our response.
The Transparency Rules will apply to our regulated firms providing legal services in:
• residential conveyancing (freehold sale or purchase, leasehold sale or purchase, mortgages and re-mortgages) and
• probate (uncontested).
We will also encourage our regulated firms to publish such information as they think will benefit consumers making decisions about which firm and or service provision will best meet their requirements.
We continue our joint work with the legal services regulators on the consumer facing website, Legal Choices and encourage our regulated firms, and all members of our regulated community, to provide a link to the website in their client communications.