Instant Law – the legal video-conferencing business that currently offers its service through major libraries in London and Birmingham – is to move into the not-for-profit sector next month by partnering with Greenwich Citizens Advice Bureau in London.
Law centres and other not-for-profit organisations should be allowed to charge for advice to help counter the impact of legal aid cuts and reduced local authority funding, the Legal Services Board said today.
Prospective clients and third parties will be able to make complaints about lawyers, if plans unveiled by the Legal Ombudsman today go ahead. The one-year time limit for making complaints to LeO will also be extended, as will the level of compensation it can award.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board have begun work on creating an online “virtual community” for consumers known as “Legally Speaking”. The news comes as we can reveal the Legal Services Consumer Panel has escaped the “bonfire of the quangos” – just as the panel’s chairwoman is stepping down.
The Legal Ombudsman has added his voice to concerns at plans to merge the Legal Services Consumer Panel into Citizens Advice. He said that whatever happens, he will still “need someone I can talk to who I believe truly represents consumer interests… Unfortunately, for all its virtues, Citizens Advice cannot do that.”
Plans to merge the Legal Services Consumer Panel into Citizens Advice will need to overcome issues around confidentiality and conflicts of interests as the charity is also a provider in the legal market, Legal Services Board chairman David Edmonds has warned.