Newsletter – December 2020

Spotlight on… legal market dynamics

In 2016, the CMA carried out a market study into the supply of legal services in England and Wales, concluding that competition for individual consumers and small businesses was not working well. In particular, there was not enough information available on price, quality and service to help those who need legal support choose the best option. We made recommendations to all of the legal services regulators in England and Wales, including the Costs Lawyer Standards Board to implement improved standards to make this information more readily available.

What are we doing now?

When we made our recommendations in 2016, many lawyers had little experience in making price, service and quality information available upfront. We were told that one size couldn’t fit all and that providing legal services wasn’t the same as selling beans in a supermarket – something that costs lawyers will be well aware of – so improving information would be difficult. We recognised this, as well as other challenges in increasing transparency and seeking to drive competition, and we said we would return to the market to see what progress and improvements have been made. We’re now conducting a short focused three month long review to identify what, if any, further action is needed.

Why does this matter?

We think that it is important for users of legal services to understand what they are purchasing but very often relevant information that could be provided upfront isn’t. We think that having better quality information will lead to more informed choices that gives people even more confidence in their lawyer.

Importantly, having easy access to this information helps people compare lawyers and shop around as well as understanding what types of legal professionals are able and competent to help them.

We are interested in how different providers make information available and how the different approaches of the regulators have affected this.

Staying informed about the review

The CMA will be updating the review’s case page on its website as relevant during the review and will publish its findings in December 2020.

Paul Kellaway, Assistant Director, Competition and Markets Authority

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