Posted on 14th July 2020 at 15:34
Are we finished with Price & Service Transparency?
A week might be a long time in politics, but a year in conveyancing passes in the twinkling of an eye….
How slowly the wheels turn! The Price & Transparency regulations were introduced in December 2018 to a conveyancing industry at best unconvinced of their benefits. This lack of conviction that seems to have been shared to an extent by the Law Society, has in my view, left the initiative struggling to achieve its aims.
The sponsors of price and service transparency long for a better-informed decision by clients but conveyancing practitioners have either metaphorically ticked what they see as a compliance box and moved on or have simply parked the issue.
The CMA is set to review the position shortly and this divergence between compliance and added value for clients will be apparent. The SRA’s own review of a sample of firms in June 2019 found that 25% of firms were fully compliant and a further 58% were partially compliant.
Our own survey (see below) of conveyancing specifically, found only 5% of firms provide a personalised online estimate of fees without the need to supply an email address – the preferred end game for the CMA. At the same time, only 9% of firms promote client reviews collected by an independent third party – another key indicator for the CMA.
These statistics illustrate starkly the dislocation between the two drivers of compliance and client value.
Nor is there any sign that firms are flocking to sign up with comparison sites – probably on the sensible premise that other than price, there’s nothing much to compare anyway, there are no agreed standards or metrics and should they sign up, then no doubt they’ll be charged for the privilege.
Moving this agenda forward, on anything other than an attritional, incremental basis needs a new alignment between the rule makers and the rule takers, and, I’d suggest, more proactive, enabling behaviour from the regulator community that gives the profession the tools and reference points it so desperately needs.
Until then, firms will profess correctly that they’ve done what has been asked of them and clients will be left with only a marginally better understanding of the purchasing decision they’ve made.