Mixed response to LSB’s plan for regulatory overhaul, with Falconer calling for focus on unmet legal need instead
Reactions from key legal services industry bodies to the Legal Services Board’s blueprint for radical form of legal regulation have ranged from enthusiastic welcome to anger at its timing, while the politician who introduced the Legal Services Act 2007 said tackling unmet legal need was more of a priority.
Law firms should offer “paralegal services” to cut the cost of advice on family matters, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has suggested. In a report for the Legal Services Board, the panel also called for greater use of unbundling and fixed fees.
Law firms should be required by their regulators to publish details of complaints and average prices on their websites, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has said. The panel also called for the publication of firms’ litigation outcomes and success rates.
There are positive signs about improving consumer satisfaction with how they find, compare and then use law firms, major research by the Legal Services Consumer Panel has revealed. However, the panel said more vulnerable consumers “are potentially being left behind as those more empowered are able to take advantage of market changes”.
SRA: clients may not need “detailed information” where work is referred to firms’ separate businesses
Clients may not need detailed information about separate businesses when work is referred to them by their law firm owners, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has said. The Legal Services Consumer Panel has warned that the new separate business rule could leave consumers in the dark.
Confusion over law firm complaints and the new European directive on alternative dispute resolution is set to continue, the chair of the legal services consumer panel has predicted. Elisabeth Davies said the panel was taken by surprise by the Legal Ombudsman’s change of heart on the issue.
Vulnerable people could lose out under the latest plans by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for the regulation of consumer credit work, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has warned. Meanwhile the Law Society called for greater clarity on payment of legal fees by instalments.
Consumers are being misled by dubious practices in online reviews and endorsements, while more than half of buyers of services are swayed by them, according to an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The young entrepreneur behind RateMyBarrister.com has expanded the site to include solicitors. William Rees, a barrister based in Cardiff, accepted that this would mean finding a new domain name.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has had to make “difficult judgement calls” in balancing the competing needs for increased access to services with consumer protection, the panel’s chair, Elisabeth Davies, has admitted.