The Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) has been awarded a £58,000 grant from the government’s Regulators Pioneer Fund for a research project exploring how Costs Lawyers could “bring about downward pressure” on the cost of legal services.
The second round of support from the fund, which was set up in 2018, invited regulators and local authorities to apply for grants of up to £200,000 for projects that would help create a UK regulatory environment that encourages business innovation and growth.
Projects have to run for at least six months and end by 31 March 2022. It received 41 applications and approved 21, investing £3.7m in total.
The CLSB said the background to its proposal was the finding of the Competition and Markets Authority that the way the current legal regulatory framework was based on professional titles and reserved activities has the potential to restrict competition unnecessarily or leave a regulatory gap.
The project, which runs to next March, will explore whether, if regulation or legislation were different, Costs Lawyers could help reduce the cost of legal services.
It will look at the types of services both regulated and unregulated advisers specialising in costs might be involved in, such as finding the right price for legal services before buying, resolving disputes about the price of legal services after buying, and obtaining the best advice on controlling costs when that advice is bought via another lawyer.
The research will ask how advisers specialising in costs “might drive services in a way that exerts a downward pressure on the costs of legal services”, and whether any regulatory or legislative change relevant to Costs Lawyers remove barriers to capturing this benefit or even greater benefits.
Kate Wellington (pictured), chief executive of the CLSB, said: “We asked ourselves some hard questions about what we should be doing to make sure consumers, businesses and the wider society fully benefit from the unique skills of Costs Lawyers.
“The result was a compelling research proposal that secured funding even up against stiff competition from much bigger regulators.”
ACL chair Claire Green commented: “The role of the Costs Lawyer has changed significantly in recent years, with the shift to budgeting meaning we have developed project management and other skills.
“Our members are now playing a far greater role in the delivery of legal services and we hope that this project will show how they can support the public and help solicitors operate in a more cost-effective manner.”