The Legal Services Board has called on regulators to provide clear information on provider performance, to help consumers make more informed choices.
This follows research by watchdog the Legal Services Consumer Panel showing that only one in five people ‘shop around’ for solicitors - the same proportion as in 2012.
Of those who did look at alternatives, 65% were satisfied with the value for money, compared with 56% of those who did not. Service satisfaction was also higher among those who shopped around, at 89%, compared with 79% of those who did not.
The research showed that tools to help consumers select providers are little used – 1% used a price-comparison website, 2% a customer feedback website and 4% an accreditation scheme.
Panel chair Elisabeth Davies (pictured) said that it pays consumers to shop around, but not enough people are doing so.
She said: ‘Legal services reforms have brought in a wider choice of providers, but this will make little difference unless consumers have the tools and confidence to search the market and vote with their feet.’
Davies said there is ‘much’ that regulators can do to make things easier. ‘This area is crying out for a clear strategy and leadership, but no one has yet to really grasp the nettle.’
The tracker survey coincides with the LSB’s decision to accept the panel’s earlier recommendations on what regulators can do to empower consumers.
LSB chair David Edmonds has written to all approved regulators urging them to do more to help consumers play a ‘more active, empowered role’ in the legal services market, by providing clear ‘performance information’.