Was your Conveyancing Solicitor recommended by the estate agent? Are you concerned whether the Solicitor had to pay a referral fee to the agent? At present there is no transparency for consumers, they do not have to be told if such a fee has been paid, or how much. But is that about to change?
The Legal Services Board (LBS), the independent body responsible for overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales, has just published its report on referral fees.
Conveyancing Solicitors may rely for much of their new work on introductions from agents or other introducers, and Solicitors may therefore be more concerned to keep the agent happy rather than put the clients interests first.
The LSB has concluded that it will not prohibit the payment of such fees, nor will it prescribe any regulations requiring transparency across the whole of the legal profession. Instead it has laid down guidelines for the Regulating bodies of the individual legal professions, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which should ensure that by 2013 consumers will know when a referral fee is being paid. This will leave it to the regulators themselves to decide what regulations they should make.
The LSB said that there was not much hard evidence about these payments, probably because people don't know about them. Even if a consumer suspects a fee has been paid, they won't know the amount.
Would you want to know if a fee was paid and how much?
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