New Zealand Law Society - English research finds legal services pricing variance

English research finds legal services pricing variance

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Research published by England's Legal Services Board has provided information on the prices charged for commonly used legal services.

The Board's research consisted of 1,506 telephone interviews with a range of legal services providers, asking for information on charges for three areas of legal work - conveyancing, divorce, and wills, lasting power of attorney and estate administration.

The final report finds that prices vary considerably for some common legal services.

Among the findings:

  • 17% of firms surveyed display their prices on their websites. Firms who display their prices on their websites are generally cheaper than those who do not.
  • Legal services providers adopting a fixed fee approach to charging tended to offer the lowest price on average when compared with those charging in other ways.
  • The majority of firms (67%) stated that their prices had stayed about the same over the last 12 months. However, among those reporting a change, the balance was very much in favour of a price increase (29% reported that prices had increased, and just 4% that they had decreased).
  • There were no significant differences between the prices of Alternative Business Structures and other firms.
  • Firms based in the South East of England charged significantly higher prices across each of the services tested compared to firms located elsewhere.
  • Fixed fees predominate for less complex matters (conveyancing, wills, power of attorney and for simpler uncontested divorces). As the services sought became more complex, providers were more likely to say they would charge either an hourly rate or estimate the total cost.

The survey found the following average prices for common legal transactions (English currency converted to New Zealand dollars at the rate of£1 = NZ$2.08):

Legal Services Board Survey of Consumer Legal Services

Transaction Average £ NZ conversion
Sale (freehold) 640 $ 1,330.47
Purchase (freehold) 722 $ 1,500.93
Sale & Purchase (freehold) 1283 $ 2,667.17
Uncontested divorce (petitioner) 722 $ 1,500.93
Uncontested divorce (respondent) 453 $ 941.72
Standard will 168 $ 349.25
Complex will 206 $ 428.24
Lasting power of attorney 414 $ 860.55
Grant of probate 829 $ 1,723.37
Estate administration 1926 $ 4,003.87

The Legal Services Board oversees nine approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners in England and Wales.