Expert group to advise on creation of index to judge success of legal services reforms

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By Legal Futures

20 October 2010

Reform success: basket of indicators will inform annual healthcheck

An expert advisory group to help the Legal Services Consumer Panel design its Consumer Welfare Index has been unveiled.

The index – first announced in the panel’s 2010/11 workplan (see story) – will be a basket of indicators that, taken together, will assess whether the legal services reforms are having a positive impact on consumers. It will then form the basis of an annual “consumer health check”.

The group, made up of senior figures with expertise in performance measurement and research, is to assist the panel in developing a set of indicators.

Chaired by panel member Elisabeth Davies, its members are:

  • Jeremy Coyle, who before retirement ran for many years a market research and consultancy business, working mostly in the financial services and IT sectors;
  • Professor Richard Moorhead, deputy head and director of teaching and learning quality at Cardiff Law School, as well as a member of the Civil Justice Council. A frequent commenter on Legal Futures, his research interests encompass legal services, the legal profession and access to justice;
  • Roger Taylor, a former journalist and co-founder of Dr Foster in 2000, a healthcare information service. Consumer panel chairwoman Dr Dianne Hayter is a member of its ethics committee;
  • David Walker, a journalist and author with particular interest in public management and social research. He is a member of the council of the Economic and Social Research Council.

The panel – whose future is under a cloud (see story) – says the success of the legal services reforms should ultimately be judged by their consumer impact, and it has identified five high-level outcomes it wants to see:

  • A competitive legal services market where consumers are empowered and have easy access to high-quality legal services at a fair price;
  • All consumers have equal access to legal services regardless of their personal circumstances;
  • Regulatory bodies have processes enabling them to take decisions which are in the consumer interest;
  • Consumers receive legal services from a diverse and competent workforce; and
  • Consumer complaints are resolved quickly, fairly and cost-effectively.

The index will be a tool to help measure the direction of travel towards these outcomes and highlight issues needing attention. The basket of indicators will be populated by a mix of existing data and original research.

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