Regulators should improve transparency around the cost and quality of legal advice, the Legal Service Board (LSB) says today in a report following up last month's largest ever survey of legal needs. The survey, conducted by the Law Society and LSB, found one in five people have not sought professional help because they thought it would be too expensive and a quarter complained that searching for prices is too complicated.

In its report marking the second annual Justice Week, which begins today, the LSB indicates a new focus on making legal services more accessible. It states that the emphasis should not be placed solely on public legal education and changing consumer behaviour. Instead, regulatory intervention may be needed ‘to ensure suppliers are providing more accessible services’ and regulators should work to improve transparency around the price and quality of different providers.

It also proposes ‘health justice partnerships’ in which doctors, nurses and pharmacists would issue legal referrals.

The report concludes that ‘the legal services sector needs to improve at recognising and taking account of the significant variation in legal capability so that services and interventions are designed accordingly. This involves addressing the barriers that currently impede people navigating the journey to resolving legal issues’.

The legal needs survey found that over a third of all respondents lacked legal confidence and thought they could not handle difficult legal situations. According to the report, those with ‘lower legal capability’ tend to be women, under 55, with a disability that limits daily life and with a household income of less than £32,000.