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Legal Services Board publishes report on legal costs

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Walker Family Law
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Legal Services Board publishes report on legal costs

The Legal Services Board (’LSB’), the oversight regulator of legal services in England and Wales, has published a report examining prices for commonly used legal services. This is the third time the LSB has surveyed legal charges, the previous times being in 2015 and 2017.


Common legal scenarios legal service board

The report looks at the amounts charged by solicitors across England and Wales for three sets of common legal scenarios: conveyancing (buying and selling property), wills, trusts and probate work, and divorce cases. The divorce cases in turn cover five types of case:

1. An uncontested divorce requiring a full legal service;

2. An uncontested divorce responding to a petition for divorce;

3. An uncontested divorce requiring arrangements for dependent children;

4. A more complex divorce requiring mediation and advisory services; and

5. A more complex divorce involving disagreement over assets.

Amongst the main findings of the research into pricing for these scenarios were that there was a wide dispersion of prices across the various regions, that (perhaps unsurprisingly) there were more indications of price increases than decreases since 2017, that price transparency has improved, and that there is a relationship between higher service quality and higher prices.

The headlines in relation to the divorce scenarios included that the spread of prices has increased in three scenarios and decreased in two scenarios, that average 2020 prices are significantly higher than 2017 and 2015 prices in two of the five scenarios (scenarios 3 and 4) – the prices of the other three scenarios are not significantly different from 2017 prices, and that firms holding quality marks are no more expensive than those without.


TransparencyQuarreling couple talking about requirement to negotiate reasonably

One of the big themes of the report is price transparency. For many years solicitors have been criticised for failing to inform clients, and potential clients, about their charges. This has perhaps been the biggest source of complaints by clients, who find themselves saddled with bills much larger than they had expected.

For this reason we at Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors take the issue of transparency very seriously. A whole section of this website is devoted to providing information about our charges, for various types of work, and various levels of service (see the ‘Charges’ link above).

There is also a detailed discussion of what is a fair price to pay for family law legal services, which you can find here. As we state there: “We believe that information about price for family law legal services should be available to potential clients to assist them to shortlist potential solicitors to represent them.”


Good advice

Which brings us to our next point about the LSB report.

The LSB advised consumers to shop around nationally for the best deals. Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the LSB, said: “Whether buying a home, getting divorced, or making a will, we encourage people to shop around to find a good value deal that meets their needs. Unless they shop around, people risk paying far more than they need to.”

This is excellent advice. The detailed information on charges on this website is provided so that potential clients can make informed choices.

But of course it is not just about being the cheapest. It is also about the quality of service provided. It is no good paying less if that means receiving an inadequate service. Indeed, as mentioned above, the report found that there is a relationship between higher service quality and higher prices.

We believe that we provide an excellent service, as evidenced by our numerous accreditations and awards at the foot of this page. We also offer our clients a Service Level Guarantee, which we will tell you more about when we meet you.

That is not to say, however, that we are the most expensive. We are not the cheapest and we are not the most expensive. As we state elsewhere, we hope that clients would choose to instruct us because they are satisfied that we will provide them with the best value, together with an outstanding service.

Finally, for the sake of completeness we should point out that we also offer a legal aid service where legal aid is still available, for example for mediation and child law cases involving social services.