Prices of Individual Consumer Legal Services 2017
Why is this research important?
Understanding changes in prices over time helps determine whether there have been any improvements in the extent of competition between providers, and affordability and access to justice for consumers. It provides unique insight for those with an interest in these areas within the legal services market.
Why did we undertake this research?
The LSB undertook this research to monitor the average prices that consumers pay for a number of common legal services. While the Office for National Statistics publishes an index of the price of business to business legal services, our market evaluation shows the continued lack of information on the price of legal services for consumers.
What new information did this research provide?
For the first time this research enabled an analysis of changes over time of the average prices that consumers pay for 15 services covering conveyancing, divorce, wills, lasting power of attorney, probate, and estate administration. This builds on the survey published in 2016.
This research shows that there is a continued significant variation in the price that consumers pay for the same service, so it pays to shop around. Fixed fees continue to be cheaper than other forms of charging in all three market segments, and firms based in the South East are on average a third more expensive than those based elsewhere.
There has been no change in the proportion of firms displaying prices on their website between 2015 and 2017 (18%), pointing to a continued lack of information to enable consumers to easily shop around. Only a relatively small number of providers currently plan to change this practice by displaying prices on their websites in future.
Prices have changed in six of the 15 scenarios – rising in three divorce scenarios, and falling in two conveyancing scenarios, and in the Lasting Power of Attorney scenario.
The majority of firms (64%) stated that their prices had stayed about the same over the last 12 months. However, amongst those reporting a change, more had increased prices (32% reported that prices had increased whereas 4% said that they had decreased). This is similar to the findings of the 2015 survey. For those firms which reported increasing their prices in the 2017 survey, 29% cited an increase in the cost of overheads or staff as the main reason
The main report sets out these findings in more detail.
How are we going to use this research?
This new information will feed into the LSB’s ongoing market evaluation, which seeks to establish the impact of reforms on the legal sector market. Moreover, we believe the findings of this second wave of the research reinforce the CMA’s conclusions that competition in the sector is not working well and should assist regulators in shaping plans to improve transparency in the market.