The SLCC welcomes today’s report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Chief Executive Neil Stevenson commented, “The SLCC strongly welcomes the CMA report. It is an important contribution to the debate on the reform of legal services regulation.”
“Four years ago the SLCC published a vision for reform based on the ‘better regulation' agenda and consumer principles. Many of the themes outlined in the CMA’s report, such as publishing regulatory and other data to help consumers compare lawyers, echo calls we have made in our papers on reform.
“We also agree that separating regulation from representation will increase trust in this sector and result in better regulation. From our feedback from consumers, we know there is the perception of conflict of interest, which undermines confidence in the system.
“Last year, the SLCC worked with YouGov to poll the public on various issues around legal regulation. The results demonstrated strong public views regarding the importance of a regulator being separate from representative bodies and limited public confidence that a body with both functions could deal with complaints about lawyers fairly.
“The responses we received also highlighted the barriers that the current model of regulation creates for people considering complaining, including concerns about fairness, bias, and impartiality, their complaint being taken seriously, and not understanding legal jargon.
“Transparent pricing and good consumer information can assist consumers in a market which can at times appear complex and confusing, and help avoid the misunderstanding and miscommunication that lead to so many of the complaints we see.
“They can also help grow markets, creating a strong and sustainable legal sector in Scotland. This in turn provides jobs, supports businesses and citizens, and contributes to a just society.
“We were pleased to have been involved as a stakeholder in the study and are now looking forward to working with the CMA and others, to take forward its recommendations to help consumers navigate the legal services sector and ensure a thriving and sustainable legal services market.”
- The CMA report is at: https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/scottish-legal-services-research
- All figures quoted above, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,003 adults, of which 940 had never worked in the legal industry. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 11th July 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).
Only 19% of consumers felt that it was acceptable for an organisation to both regulate and represent legal services providers, and only 21% felt confident that their complaint could be dealt with fairly by such an organisation.
- 55% of those asked said that they’d be worried about raising a complaint about a lawyer in a system like the current one in Scotland, where the organisations that regulate lawyers also represents them. When asked to put this into their own words:
- 36% of responses included concerns about fairness, bias, and impartiality
- 18% raised themes around lawyers sticking together or protecting each other
- 19% raised concerns around whether their complaint would be taken seriously
- 12% thought not understanding legal issues or use of legal jargon would be a barrier.
5. In 2016, the SLCC published its original proposals for reform: Reimagine Regulation - SLCC priorities for a consultation on legal services regulation https://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/our-history/reimagine-regulation/reimagine-regulation-background/