News release

Separation would give boost to the market and consumers of legal services

We have told the Competition and Markets Authority that making legal service regulators separate from their representative bodies would boost customer choice and the affordability of legal services.

The CMA is looking at how well legal services are working for consumers and small businesses. We have responded to its call for views by setting out how full independence would benefit the public and business users of legal services.

We say that fully-independent regulation would enable innovation, promote competition and improve consumer choice. This would in turn ensure legal services remained of a high standard while driving costs down. And it could mean significant benefits to small businesses - currently only 13 per cent of them say that they consider lawyers provide value for money.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "If we were a fully independent regulator, we could reduce unnecessary barriers in the market, reducing costs and enabling competition to grow to the benefit of consumers, businesses and the public.

"Access to justice at affordable prices would improve as we could do much more, much faster to open up a competitive market. That would be a win/win for the users of legal services, the economy and our international legal sector.

"Public polling shows that independent regulation would also boost trust in solicitors. We are clear that a healthy legal market would be good for the long term interests of the profession and law firms."

We also outlined how we continue to review financial protections in place for consumers, and ensure that those coming into the profession have shown they have reached the standards of competence required. We are already reviewing the way we regulate through our Looking to the Future programme, which will aim to deal even more flexibly with innovative firms and increase access to justice.

The CMA will look at all evidence submitted before deciding whether or not to progress to a more in depth investigation.

The CMA’s market study will examine three key issues:

  1. whether customers can drive effective competition by making informed purchasing decisions
  2. whether customers are adequately protected from potential harm or can obtain satisfactory redress if legal services go wrong
  3. how regulation and the regulatory framework impact on competition for the supply of legal services

Further information on the study, which includes our submission, is available here:

Go to the CMA page

In February, ComRes conducted a survey on our behalf that showed nearly 70 per cent of those polled would be more likely to trust the profession if it was independently regulated. Further details are available here:

Go to our release

 
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