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Fixed-fee legal services more likely to be cheaper

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 12 April 2016
  2. Miscellaneous
  3. 0 comments
Money in pocket

Law firms which present fixed fees upfront are more likely to offer cheaper services, a survey has found.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Legal Services Board (LSB), found that there was a significant difference in the prices charged for the same services by different firms across different areas of law.

One example given was in conveyancing, where the cost of the services required for the sale of a freehold property was found to vary from £250 to £3,200, depending on the firm.

The cost of making a Will was also found to vary greatly. The highest price reported for making a simple Will was £750, well above the average figure of £168. The cost of making a complex Will went even higher, with the highest fee reported at £1,500.

The starkest differences were reported in divorce – complex cases involving children and assets were found to vary in cost by tens of thousands of pounds, with one law firm charging £34,000 for a contested case where assets were involved.

Even uncontested divorce proceedings were shown to wander into expensive territory, with the most expensive fees reaching £10,625, increasing to an eye-watering £17,000 when there were children involved.

Other areas covered in the report included probate and estate administration.

Lack of transparency in pricing

The report also revealed a lack of transparency in terms of pricing, with only 17% of firms displaying their prices on their website.

Sites that did display their prices (as Law on the Web does) were likely to be cheaper than those who did not.

Neil Buckley, Chief Executive for the LSB, said the research demonstrated the value of shopping around when it comes to legal services.

“For many consumers, substantial savings on commonly purchased legal services – especially those which do not require face to face delivery – can be made by searching the market across England and Wales.

“For consumers in the South East in particular, our research shows that a premium may be paid for direct, locally sourced legal services of the type covered by this report.”

He added that some firms had more work to do to adapt to the changing market.

“The legal services market is changing and we are seeing numerous signs of innovation as new providers enter the market and existing providers develop their services,” he said. “But there is still some way to go before all consumers can be confident of finding the legal service they need at a price they can afford.

“Firms who are yet to adapt will have to look at what their competitors are providing. This is a market with huge potential for delivering a better deal for consumers.”

Are legal services competitive enough?

The report comes as the the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigates the legal market, in a bid to address “long-standing concerns about the affordability of legal services and standards of service”.

One thing the CMA will consider in their report, which is due this summer, is how much information the consumer should receive about a firm’s prices before getting in contact with them.

This could lead to firms being forced to display prices on their websites, or even the creation of a legal firm comparison site.

You can read the LSB’s report and data on their website.

Law on the Web’s fixed-fee products

At Law on the Web, we have fixed fees for all of our products, whether you need legal advice over the phone or help to protect you from losing your licence.

We’re also proud to offer our services at affordable prices – our price for writing a standard Will is £145, lower than the average found in the LSB’s report.

Nicole Rogers from DAS Law, the firm that provides our Will writing services, said that their fixed fees make it easier for clients to do what is right for them.

“By providing fixed fees, the client is fully informed of the costs involved from the very beginning,” she said. “This way, the client is given the choice before deciding to proceed.”

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