Most people know very little about how the law works in the UK, research has found, with 44% admitting that they did not know the difference between a solicitor, lawyer or barrister.
The survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Slater & Gordon also highlighted huge gaps around both criminal and civil law.
A third were not sure on the difference between criminal and civil courts, while 22% thought you had to have a master’s degree in law to be a magistrate.
The findings come at a time when there is a growing focus on the need for public legal education.
When it came to legal terminology, one in ten people thought probate was the same as probation, with 23% thinking the term ‘silk’ simply related to the wigs that barristers and judges wear.
Martyn Beauchamp, Slater & Gordon’s chief customer officer, said: “There have been studies in the past around how intimidating people can find the legal process but we wanted to find out why people felt that way…
“What this research shows is that there is a need for legal businesses to educate people on how the law works and make them understand the law is there to protect them in their time of need.”
One in ten people (12%) thought the same solicitor could represent both parties in a divorce settlement to cut down on costs and 26% believed that solicitors were experts in all areas of the law.
Nearly half of those surveyed (44%) thought that, if they did not have a will, their money would just go to the “closest person” to them and 41% thought you had to pay money to be granted bail.
A fifth of people (18%) admitted they had no knowledge about the law with over one in ten (14%) saying what they knew came from crime shows on TV.
Slater & Gordon commissioned the research to mark the launch of a new podcast called The Case Files.