A call for transparency in the legal sector
Del Canto Chambers is working with the Bar Standard Board Pilot Scheme to promote transparency on fees, services and redress offered by legal providers.
This October the Bar Standard Board (BSB) has published its Consultation Paper in response to the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) where the Bar of England and Wales aims Barristers to be more transparent with consumers on their fees, services and the rights of redress that are available.
Since Barristers can be instructed directly by a client in accordance to the Public Access Scheme, these have gradually been adapting their new status in order to conduct legal services directly with clients without being instructed by Solicitors. Therefore the BSB is proposing that Barrister should be required to disclose information about their services, and the way to have a “high Impact” to disclose:
- Pricing and charging model (e.g. fixed fee, hourly rates, capped charges, conditional fee agreement/damages-based agreement);
- Hourly fees (where charged) by seniority of barrister or grade of staff; (Where offered) indicative fixed fees and factors that may affect these and the circumstances where additional fees may be charged;
- A description of the services that the legal services provider provides;
- Indicative timescales of completing services and factors affecting these;
- Regulatory status, registration details and;
- Complaints process and access to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO).
Del Canto Chambers and Leon Fernando Del Canto, a member of the Public Access Scheme, find extremely useful this initiative and we agree that Barristers should be more transparent on their services and prices. So far, most of the legal services offered by legal providers are discussed in private with the clients at their first approach or consultancy. We offer our fees in the context of the client care or engagement letter. We are also aware that sometimes is difficult to guess the timescale of some proceedings, specially when the case involves Court matters. To this effect letting know the clients on the Chambers’ website information about the hourly rate and the average timescale of a process may be a good idea for the client to know about the magnitude of its case.
Should the hourly rates be published on their Website?
This is the million pounds’ question. We believe that promotes transparency and helps the client to have different views on how much its case would cost. The BSB proposes the following:
- Option one: self-employed barristers in chambers provide individual price and service information on their chambers’ website; and
- Option two: self-employed barristers in chambers provide blended price and service information on their chambers’ website. This could take the form of ranges, indicative fees for standard types of work or average fees.