Law Update: Clients 'in the dark' over costs

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Some solicitors are still keeping clients in the dark about costs, despite clear guidance from the Law Society, according to a survey published this week by the National Consumer Council. One in four firms admitted that they did not operate the internal complaints procedures required by the society.

Solicitors taking part in the survey said that 80 per cent of their clients were told at the outset how much they were likely to have to pay. But this figure was contradicted by clients surveyed - only 60 per cent of privately paying clients were fully informed at the outset, and one in four clients said they had no idea how much their case would cost until they actually received the bill. The majority of clients, however, said they were satisfied with their solicitors' service. Only 10 per cent said the service they received was poor.

The NCC called on the Law Society to set higher standards of client care, and to take a tougher line with solicitors failing to comply with professional rules. The society said that the remarks were misplaced, citing its record of rigorous research on solicitors' services and management practices, as well as recent initiatives in client care.

Walter Merricks, the society's head of communication, expressed his disappointment that the NCC 'had chosen to ignore the overwhelmingly positive results of their survey and instead to reiterate criticisms which do not follow from the findings'.