LSB not opposed to full-scale legal market probe

Topics: Competition,Regulation and compliance

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The oversight regulatory body has given its provisional backing to the competition watchdog for a complete review of the legal sector.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced last month plans to examine concerns about the affordability and quality of legal services in England and Wales.

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The watchdog said it would decide within six months whether it intends to refer the market for a more in-depth investigation. Representations about this option are needed by this week.

Legal Services Board chief executive Neil Buckley (pictured) today said he would ‘not wish to see a market investigation reference ruled out’ of CMA plans.

In a four-page letter to the antitrust body, Buckley said the CMA is right to start by looking broadly and including unregulated providers in its study.

‘Whilst the functioning of the legal services market has without doubt improved since the Legal Services Act 2007, we know… that it still has a long way to go before it can be said that there is effective competition,’ he said.

Buckley said there are ‘significant’ levels of unmet legal need; just 20% of the public with a legal problem plan to take it to a lawyer.

He added that although the extent of shopping around has increased in the past five years, progress on consumer empowerment has been ‘sluggish’.

The programme of deregulation and liberalisation has reduced burdens on providers, he noted, but the underlying legislative framework still needs reform.

Buckley revealed that the LSB expects to publish a number of research reports in the next six months, including a legal need survey of individuals, a study on the prices of common legal services, a study to map the provision of unregulated legal services, work on the operation of the public access arrangements and economic research on the likely impacts of changes to regulatory rules.

Readers' comments (11)

  • I cant afford a Ferrari...are you going to bring those prices down???

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  • Just what burdens has it reduced on Solicitors exactly ?

    They are at a competitive disadvantage with just about everyone ?

    Higher levels of PII to Accountants doing probate ? Local Authorities having Council Tax payers funding their PII when offering services to the public ? Being paid once for two lots of work in conveyancing ? Errrm...that little matter of draconian and burdensome Regulation ? Costs almost impossible to recover at SDT if you are successful ? Outrageous PII premiums, only to find out that you may not be covered ? Need I go on ?

    If anyone ought to braying on the door for Solicitors, for a review, it's that zombie called TLS !

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  • "While the functioning of the legal services market has without doubt improved since the Legal Services Act 2007..."...

    What planet is this man on? Uranus I suggest, or up there somewhere! LSA 2007 was a disaster for our profession.

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  • Loath though I am to agree with his Crawfordship, that quotation was the one which leapt out at me. Where is the evidence that the functioning of the market has improved since the LSA 2007? Taking that point as read is surely a serious mistake.

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  • Either scrap regulated lawyers or scrap unregulated lawyers.
    Having both going at the same time really does not work.

    LB

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  • Yet another bureaucratic assault from the army of regulators hell-bent on decimating what is left of the legal profession. Does the government still want a legal profession in this country at all ? Current indications are that it favours pursuing something similar to the legal set-up in the third world. One would be mistaken for thinking there had been an epidemic of over-charging, corruption, theft of client's money, bribing judges or opponents in litigation etc. Let's have a witch hunt.

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  • Does anybody truly believe that the public will welcome unregulated legal service providers in the long term? Granted I have only been "in the game" for just under 6 years but I have yet in that time to meet a Client who said to me "I don't want a qualified fee earner, give me someone unregulated and out of their depth".

    Granted I speak mostly from CFA experience but even still, what experience I do have of private paying work suggests that people will pay a reasonable price for what they deem to be a good service.

    Whilst people might initially welcome rock bottom prices, I suspect those of us in the professional negligence field would have a field day in the longer term...

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  • "Buckley said there are ‘significant’ levels of unmet legal need; just 20% of the public with a legal problem plan to take it to a lawyer."

    Crikey, does this guy live in a crofter's cottage in the nether regions of Scotland? Can I suggest Mr Buckley mugs up on the odious LASPO and what it did for 'unmet need'.

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  • @Anonymous3 February 2016 10:24 pm

    "...Yet another bureaucratic assault from the army of regulators hell-bent on decimating what is left of the legal profession. Does the government still want a legal profession in this country at all ? Current indications are that it favours pursuing something similar to the legal set-up in the third world. ..."

    Well. The Government most certainly don't want an educated stimulated and well paid Legal Profession, let alone one that can properly investigate its abuses.

    The public do but they don't know it yet......

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  • @Anonymous3 February 2016 10:24 pm

    And as Geoffrey Robertson says in his book "The Justice Game", about Dennings comments about 'tearing up the rule book', such is fondly quoted in Third World despotic fiefdoms .....

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