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Saga promises ‘law for the people’ as it launches ABS

Alternative business structure licence "further step along the path of Saga revolutionising legal services"

5 November 2013

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Saga has pledged to offer "law for the people, not for the lawyers" after setting up a new legal services arm as an alternative business structure.

A joint venture with long-standing partner Parabis Law, which has been supplying back-office legal support since the over-50s organisation started offering legal services ten years ago, Saga Law will start trading in 2014.

"Currently the market appears to be stacked in favour of the provider rather than the consumer," said Saga chief executive Roger Ramsden. "We aim to change things so we have created a legal service with customers in mind not the convenience of lawyers. The granting of a licence to Saga Law is a further step along the path of Saga revolutionising legal services in the UK."

Last year Saga launched Legal Essentials, a before-the-event legal expenses package, as it finalised its application to become an ABS.

Legal Essentials has since been withdrawn as a stand-alone product and is only available as an add-on to other existing Saga products, following "a full review of the product's sales processes, customer demand and financial performance of the product", a Saga spokesperson told Private Client Adviser's sister title Solicitors Journal.

At present, Saga offers a range of services under the Saga Legal Services brand, which focuses on will-writing, estate planning, probate and conveyancing services.

In line with Saga's earlier ambitions, the new ABS claims it will offer "value for money, no jargon, customer-oriented with fixed fee and good-value conveyancing, will writing, power of attorney and probate".

"The creation of Saga Law now gives scope for Saga to provide its wider range of legal services under the one firm in the future," the company said in a statement.

Saga said its entry into the legal services market was driven by "the pressing need to make legal services more focused on the needs of customers".

A Populus survey of 9,229 adults over 50 last year found that over-50s were concerned about "spiralling solicitors' bills, being bamboozled by jargon and poor value for money".

According to the survey, 81 per cent of over-50s would like to see fixed prices offered at the outset rather than an hourly rate for an uncertain number of hours worked, 66 per cent wanted letters and documents to be written in plain English rather than legal jargon, and 60 per cent said legal services providers should offer more value for money.

A third (33 per cent) of individuals surveyed also said they should have more regular updates.

"People want legal advice and products at a price they understand, can afford and that is agreed in advance," said Ramsden.

"They want a clearer idea of what it is they are paying for; legal issues are complicated and the jargon used by the industry prevents many people from understanding the process. Finally, they want a decent service, all too often customers have to chase solicitors for action and updates and this shouldn't be the case.

"It is our intention to address those needs and to make legal services more accessible and affordable to a great many more people."

HNWIs need tailor-made solutions, says Lesley Lintott

“We welcome other legal providers coming into the market and applaud the aims of Saga in launching this service – who would want to argue with the need for transparency about costs, the use of plain English and the need to communicate with clients to keep them informed?

“Fixed-fee estimates are now in common use wherever possible, legal jargon has been replaced by clear language and lawyers recognise the value of responsiveness and updates.

“However, and this may be more so in the high net worth market, we are frequently working with clients whose personal finances are complex and who therefore require a tailored rather than commoditised service.

“In private wealth, our relationships tend to be long-standing, and over the years one learns how best to communicate with each client.”

Lesley Lintott is a partner at Penningtons Manches

Categorised in:

Wills, Trusts & Probate