Monthly Archives: August 2014

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Solicitors to Feature on Comparison Websites

Comparison

Information on solicitors is to be passed to comparison websites in response to calls for more information on practitioners of law to be made accessible. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has agreed that, by the end of this year, it will begin sharing data it holds with third party comparison sites.

The calls that prompted this move came from the Legal Services Consumer Panel. They felt that online registers should have a greater amount of useful information on solicitors made available to them. The Panel was first set up after the implementation of the Legal Services Act, and has considered the publication of this kind of data to be a key aim from the beginning.

In a letter sent to the Legal Services Consumer Panel in response to this, executive director of the SRA Crispin Passmore detailed steps that will be taken to improve in this area. Passmore said that, by Christmas, a “data extract” will be in place. This will most likely include details of any disciplinary action that a given firm may have faced in the past. It is also expected to include information on the size of the firm. This initial move will be followed by the development of a complete online register, expected to be completed before the end of 2015. The complete register will be able to feed data directly to comparison sites.

Other information which the Legal Services Consumer Panel suggests may later be made available include pricing information and feedback from previous clients.

The SRA are not alone in agreeing to share data towards this end. The Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) and the Council for Licensed Conveyers have also agreed to make information they hold available in a form that can be used for this purpose.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel has singled out eight comparison sites which, based on self-assessment, it feels meet the required standards. It stresses that this does not form an endorsement of those sites specifically.

According to Elizabeth Davies, who chairs the Panel; “Not every regulator is fully on board yet, but this progress is really positive and there’s scope to build on it in the future…

“The quest for open data has been at the heart of the panel’s policies since 2011. Transparency is absolutely essential for consumers if they’re going to be able to make informed choices, protect themselves from harm and have confidence in the regulators.”