An EU directive on services in the internal market entered into force on 28 December 2009. It obliges solicitors to provide information on their services - over and above the requirements set out in the solicitors' standards of conduct rules.
Solicitors will need to:
- Make the contact details of their professional indemnity insurance providers available and which jurisdictions this insurance applies to. This information can be provided in writing, for example, in a client care letter, or made easily accessible at the firm's place of business or on its website.
- Inform customers about the legal complaints service, including their contact details. This information will need to be included in a firm's documentation that provides detailed information about their services.
There are other information requirements that may apply in certain cases and solicitors should check the draft regulations and guidance provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The services directive
Directive 2006/123 seeks to improve access to services throughout the European Union. It requires member states to remove unjustifiable or discriminatory requirements affecting the setting up or carrying on of a relevant service activity in that country.
The Services Directive is implemented into national law via the Provision of Services Regulations 2009. The Department for Business Innovation & Skills has produced guidance for business on the regulations.
This Directive sets down a number of information provisions relating to client care that solicitors need to comply with. The principal requirements are;
- establishes one-stop-shops for services providers to find information and complete the necessary formalities in one place (single point of contact)
- facilitates co-operation between regulatory authorities
- imposes a general obligation for procedures to be electronic
In order to comply with the directive, we have created an applications page on our website which contains all of the application processes that a solicitor, or firm of solicitors, might need to make, as well as accompanying guidance notes. We have reviewed each separate process to ensure that it is compliant with the directive's requirements, namely that it is not unnecessary, disproportionate or discriminatory. If you have any questions about any aspect of the directive, please email us.