Ever wondered about legal fee disparity – where one firm charges vastly more (or less) than another for precisely the same job.
The Guardian reports this week about precisely that, showing massive disparity among UK law firms for work that is precisely the same in a survey conducted by a the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Legal Services Board (LSB).
In one freehold property sale transaction the cheapest firm was charging £250 for conveyancing and the most expensive £3,200 for precisely the same freehold sale.
The startling figures have emerged from research commissioned by the Legal Services Board (LSB), which recommends consumers shop around and consider hiring solicitors from outside London and the south-east, where legal services are more expensive.
The survey has been produced ahead of what is expected to bedue in the coming months into the affordability of legal services. The data is likely to reinforce claims that there is not enough competition within the sector.
Senior judges have repeatedly identified the high cost of lawyers’ fees and cuts to legal aid as being responsible for a lack of access to justice for those who are not wealthy.
The LSB investigation found that fixed fee transactions are becoming much more common rather than hourly charge-outs.
Among the other disparities reported were the cost of an uncontested divorce involving children, which found the least expensive to be £150 and the most expensive £17,000.
A big difference in anyone’s language.
Another feature that appeared repeatedly was that law firms that display prices on their websites are generally cheaper than those that do not.
LSB chief executive Neil Buckley noted:
“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. 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.”