The Legal Services Board has approved the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)’s application to update its Probate Regulations to mandate the publication of price and service information. The regulations are effective now, but firms have until 1st February 2022 to comply.
The move to mandate the publication of price and service transparency comes following previously unsuccessful attempts to achieve compliance amongst the firms it regulates through the use of voluntary guidance. The ICAEW is now the last legal regulator to adopt mandatory rules, three years later than the SRA.
The ICAEW has issued instructions requesting firms to update websites, engagement letters and other communication materials to publish the required price and service information including:
- Total fees or estimates of the likely fees for services that are provided.
- The basis fees are charged on.
- A description of services provided with key stages.
- Likely timescales for different services.
- Details of the firm’s complaints procedure and how and when clients can complain to ICAEW and/or the Legal Ombudsman.
- ICAEW accreditation. Download the ICAEW probate accredited logo.
- Arrangements of ICAEW’s compensation fund (i.e., the consumer’s ability to claim from the ICAEW compensation fund) and the firm’s professional indemnity insurance.
All changes must be made by 1 February 2022 and compliance with the updated Probate Regulations will be assessed by the ICAEW’s Quality Assurance team as part of all probate monitoring reviews.
The ICAEW also outlines how transparency of pricing and services can bring significant benefits to firms. It cites the reduction in complaints received due to a lack of information on pricing and services at the outset of the engagement, as well as the commercial advantage that firms will gain over others by publishing information, as just some of the benefits firms will see.
Peter James, Head of Regulatory Policy at ICAEW commented:
“It’s important our firms publish the required information so consumers of probate services have all the details they need to make an informed choice. Firms have until February to make the required changes and we’re working hard to support them.”