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October 2017 Newsletter

Helping consumers choose their lawyer

We’re consulting on proposals to implement recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA that aim to empower consumers with the information they need to choose the right lawyer for them.

We hope that firms will respond positively to the recommendations from take steps to engage consumers in new ways so that the CLC does not need to introduce new rules.

Our consultation Helping Consumers Choose their Lawyer - Service, Quality and Price Transparency is now live.

You can register at the links below to take part in webinars that will focus on particular aspects of the proposals set out in our consultation document. Each one will last no more than an hour and will be a chance for you to have your say.

Our webinars will also be helpful if you are considering putting in a formal response to our consultation. 

Register for our free webinars now:

Wednesday 25th October – 12.30:  Quality information

Wednesday 1st November – 12.30:  Service information

Wednesday 8th November – 12.30:  Price information

Wednesday 22nd November – 12.30: Making information accessible for consumers

We have been working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and CILEx Regulation to agree a standard format for the delivery of price estimates for conveyancing and probate work. It is vital that new arrangements apply evenly across all providers of legal services to ensure a level playing field for lawyers and consistent experience for consumers.

CLC Chief Executive Sheila Kumar chairs the Legal Services Remedies Programme Implementation Group, through which the front-line regulators are coordinating their responses to the CMA. She says: “It is vital to empower consumers and in turn continue to foster competition and innovation in the legal services we regulate. We are also very conscious that this work should not be all about price and we will do what we can to help firms signal the quality of their service to clients.

 

Anti-Money Laundering

The legal sector regulators, including the CLC, have published joint AML guidance in draft form. This is still subject to approval by HM Treasury.

Read the draft guidance

 

We have also published a Practice Note highlighting the changes introduced by the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. 

Read the Practice Note

 

Licence renewal

Thanks to the majority of CLC firms that have completed and returned their declarations in preparation for the licence renewal process. If your firm has not yet done so, please contact licensing@clc-uk.org urgently.

 

VAT on electronic searches

A Judgment of the First Tier Tribunal has ruled that lawyers should charge VAT to the client for electronic searches. Practices should now establish what steps they need to take to ensure they comply with the law as set out in the Judgment which may include obtaining advice from their accountants.

We do not know how HMRC will interpret this judgment. Assuming there is no successful appeal, there may be wider implications about when VAT should be charged to clients on disbursements. HMRC is likely to update its guidance in due course.

 

New Land Transaction Tax effective in Wales from 1st April 2018

The Welsh Treasury has announced the rates and bands for the Land Transaction Tax that will replace SDLT in Wales from 1st April 2018.

Find out more

We are waiting for more guidance on the operation of the new tax and management of transactions of properties that straddle the border or of groups of properties in both England and Wales and will pass this on as soon as it becomes available.