Chair's Blog


Disappearing Lawyers – Are Advice Deserts stoppable?

Those who follow the legal press will be familiar with recent stories of legal aid reducing, ‘advice deserts’ growing, and specialist lawyers becoming thin on the ground. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures illustrate the problem within just one area. In 2012/13, 82,554 social security cases had legal aid help, compared to just 443 in 2017/18….

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Regulatory Performance– room for improvement for all.

Last week, the Legal Services Board (LSB) published its regulatory performance report. It is an insightful and comprehensive read. More than that, it signals a necessary change of tone and focus in an area that is crucial to LSB’s existence: providing oversight to ensure regulation delivers good consumer outcomes. It does, however, raise questions for me…

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Conveyancers4Consumers?

Since 2011, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has published an Annual Tracker survey[i] about how consumers are choosing and using legal services. This important research has helped drive the transparency agenda championed by the CMA[ii]. Taking a deeper dive into the Panel’s research produces some perhaps unsurprising findings. For example, it finds that the most-used legal…

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Towards the publication of complaints data

I was pleased that one of my first meetings as the recently appointed Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel was a Roundtable event which explored how legal services regulators could use data about complaints. The meeting drew heavily on experiences from other sectors, and highlighted, to varying degrees, how consumers, their representatives, businesses, and…

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Price Transparency, shifting the culture

The Competition and Markets Authority’s critical report into the lack of pertinent information for consumers of legal services is fast approaching its one year anniversary. Since then, the Panel has published further evidence showing an unchanged sector. In November, our annual Tracker Survey showed that only 6% of consumers found the price of services on…

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Much ado about something

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that from autumn 2018, solicitors will be able to offer services within unauthorised or unregulated firms. The SRA proposes to remove the existing prohibition which precludes this type of set-up. For the first time, a consumer will be able to purchase legal services from a solicitor operating within…

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What to do about innovation?

Thinking beyond the 21st century On 9 November, the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority published joint research on innovation in legal services. Inevitably I found myself questioning: what does innovation mean? For the Panel we interpret innovation as taking a market wide view of the whole legal ecosystem. So that’s including regulated and…

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Unbundled legal services

Guest Blog – Cathy Gallagher – Reflecting on objections Last year, the Consumer Panel’s tracker survey found that one in five consumers were ‘unbundling’ their legal services. In its simplest terms, ‘unbundling’ separates a package of legal services into parts or tasks. The consumer and the legal services provider then agree which parts of the…

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The blind truth about informed consent

Guest Blog – Andy Foster – Reforming the Separate Business Rule I downloaded some music the other day from a well-known on-line music retailer. Just before I completed the transaction I was greeted with a message asking me to accept the terms and conditions of the retailer. I gave a cursory scroll down the page which seemed…

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