Better protection needed for consumers of legal services | UCL News

Katie R. Ochoa

An overhaul of how authorized solutions are controlled in England and Wales is essential to much better secure consumers and be certain extra individuals can accessibility lawful solutions, according to a new report geared up by Stephen Mayson, Honorary Professor of Legislation at UCL.

a statue of Justice on top of the Old Bailey

The report, shared with the Ministry of Justice, is a complement to Professor Mayson’s major critique of lawful companies regulation released in 2020.

In the new report, Professor Mayson (UCL Centre for Ethics & Legislation) outlines the wide selection of customer harms arising from failures in authorized products and services, how present regulation addresses them, and the reforms that are wanted to greater defend towards them.

These harms incorporate these brought on by scams, dishonesty, incompetence and distinct sorts of very poor support, as perfectly as harms brought about by an at any time-expanding degree of “unmet” lawful demands which, the report states, is the authorized sector’s best challenge.

Existing buildings of client safety exacerbate the issue, the report says, by serving to discourage folks from trying to find authorized providers.

Critical to addressing these harms, the report argues, is:

  • To increase regulation to legal provider providers who are at the moment unregulated, this kind of as vendors of will-composing, estate administration, employment and lawtech solutions.
  • To make client dispute resolution mandatory – presently it is not for unregulated legal service companies – so that when customer harms happen, the burden is not put on the purchaser to go after solutions via the courts or with the help of third get-togethers.
  • To change the emphasis of regulation from the avoidance of customer harm (detrimental) to a beneficial condition of ‘legal properly-being’ – a “state in which consumers can have self esteem in their decision of authorized advisers without the need of burdensome enquiry about their regulatory position in which the legal sector offers relieve of accessibility to tips, representation and doc preparation in which enquiry, engagement and redress are in the same way significantly less burdensome procedures and by way of which the genuine participation of citizens in modern society is supported, in accordance with their lawful legal rights and obligations.”

The report identifies a range of existing measures to enable market “legal very well-being” in the United kingdom, including purchaser education and learning, pro bono perform, authorized support funding, and regulatory sandboxes that encourage innovation in a specific region.  But it goes on to suggest new procedures to motivate wider acquire-up of legal bills insurance policy (frequently involved, for occasion, in house insurance coverage), as effectively as well being justice partnerships, exactly where legal solutions do the job alongside one another with GPs to tackle overall health challenges that can be solved by means of authorized suggests, such as wellbeing challenges prompted by weak housing.

Professor Mayson stated: “If citizens are not able to easily and effectively implement or defend their rights, if their health and well-currently being are adversely impacted by the effort and hard work of performing so, if they do not feel that their quality of life is increased by their profitable interaction with the law (even in a favourable lifetime-celebration, these kinds of as transferring house), then it does us as a modern society tiny credit history to stand by and do practically nothing to enhance their knowledge. 

“We think that in England & Wales we have the most effective lawful system in the environment, and some of the finest lawyers. We are suitable to believe that. But we must also settle for that our regulatory framework that oversees it is an emperor with important couple of clothing on.” 

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Mark Greaves

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E: m.greaves [at] ucl.ac.united kingdom


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