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New rules for conveyancing | The Negotiator

Suman Dally, Partner, Shoosmiths LLP:
Price transparency only risks making the industry even more price competitive, driving down fees and consequently service.

Whilst I understand the intention, I do feel the requirement for price transparency has caused confusion and created a further distraction in an industry, which has far more pressing issues around modernisation and digitalisation of the conveyancing process.

Conveyancers generally already provide clients with a comprehensive illustration of fees and anticipated expenses but, as every transaction and clients’ needs are unique and unknown at the point of instruction, additional fees can never be quantified by either client or lawyer at the point of instruction.

Other professions do not seem to have this need for ‘standard’ disclosure of fees if, for example, we compare ourselves to accountants. Price transparency only risks making the industry even more price competitive, driving down fees and consequently service for under-valued and complex work in an ever more demanding consumer market – something which many conveyancers are not yet geared to offer. Low margins have already driven expert people out of residential conveyancing, which has resulted in a skills shortage, inevitably contributing to slower transactions.

Rebecca Swain, Partner and Head of Residential Conveyancing, Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP:
The new rules should help with enquiry conversions from clients. I am fully in favour of providing clients with full costs transparency at the outset of a transaction and we have been doing so for as long as I can remember. The new rules require us to publish pricing details on our website; however there are a host of variables that will affect a transaction, which makes it almost impossible to provide an accurate fixed price without discussing the transaction with our clients first.

Decisions should also not be based on price alone. It is important to establish the level of service to be offered and the qualification and experience of the person(s) handling the transaction.

Both can have a significant impact on the transaction and how it progresses.

The new rules will enable clients to view general details of the charging structure of a firm, which in return should help with enquiry conversions. However, I am still a firm believer in picking up the telephone to discuss a new transaction. Only then can you be guaranteed an accurate initial quote and an indication of service.

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New rules for conveyancing – The Negotiator.