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Tuesday, 05 April 2016

It really does pay to shop around when you are buying legal services…

It may be a cliché but new research published by the Legal Services Board (LSB) proves that shopping around for legal services can save the consumer money.

The LSB has commissioned research, the results of which we publish today, into the prices that consumers pay for a number of the most commonly used legal services. This research helps us understand more about competition between providers, affordability and access to justice for consumers.

This research provides, for the first time, robust data on prices for conveyancing, divorce, wills, power of attorney and estate administration in England and Wales. The data indicates that if you want a competitive price for these important and commonly used legal services then you should be aware that:

  • lower prices can be obtained by shopping around, because prices vary significantly for the same service
  • firms that display prices on their websites and/or that offer fixed fees tend to be cheaper
  • the majority of firms surveyed (67%) stated that their prices had stayed about the same over the last 12 months. Three in 10 (29%) had increased prices and 4% reduced them
  • firms based in the South East of England charged significantly higher prices compared to firms located elsewhere, and
  • the majority of firms considered that in most cases services were not likely to cost customers more than initially quoted.

Legal Services Board Chief Executive, Neil Buckley,said:

"This research demonstrates that it really does pay to shop around.

For many consumers, substantial savings on commonly purchased legal services – especially those which do not require face to face delivery - can be made by searching the market across England and Wales.

For consumers in the South East in particular, our research shows that a premium may be paid for direct, locally sourced legal services of the type covered by this report.

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."


For further information, please contact the LSB's Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).

Notes for editors:

  1. The report: Prices of Individual Consumer Legal Services can be found here.

  2. OMB Research undertook the research on behalf of the Legal Services Board conducting 1,506 telephone interviews between November 2015 and January 2016.

  3. All respondents answered questions on firm profile and ease of price estimation. They were then divided into three groups and were asked to provide prices on specific scenarios within one key legal area: conveyancing, divorce or wills, lasting power of attorney and estate administration.

  4. The core objectives of this research is to:
    - provide a robust picture of the prices that are currently paid by consumers for some key legal services, and
    - develop a methodology that can be replicated in future to provide an accurate measure of pricing changes over time (and that can potentially be extended to cover businesses as well as consumers).

  5. The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.

  6. The LSB oversees nine approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

    In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are listed as approved regulators in relation only to reserved probate activities.

  7. As at 1 April 2015, the legal profession comprised 142,109 solicitors, 326 alternative business structures, 15,237 barristers, 7,848 chartered legal executives and 5,678 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The sector is valued at £32 billion per annum (2015) which is up 23% in cash terms since 2012. For more information see here.

Summary of Mean Prices



Wills, Power of Attorney and Estate Administration

Prices Summary (example: Conveyancing) - By Location

Mean Price Country English Regions
England Wales North Mids South East South West
Sale (Freehold) £645 £556 £525 £624 £745 £654
Sale (Leasehold) £736 £642 £577 £730 £853 £744
Purchase (Freehold) £729 £621 £613 £677 £855 £709
Purchase (Leasehold) £822 £708 £686 £770 £961 £807
Sale & Purchase (Freehold) £1,295 £1,092 £1,076 £1,257 £1,485 £1,286


Charging Approach (example: Divorce)

Display Prices on Website

Frequency of Services Costing More Than Initially Estimated