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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Solicitors Regulation Authority publishes findings on unreserved legal services market

Solicitors Regulation Authority publishes findings on unreserved legal services market


Small business consumers would benefit from more information on protection levels

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) published findings from research it commissioned on the unreserved legal services market on 13 June, which finds that better access to information on the different levels of protection offered by providers would help consumers when choosing between regulated and unregulated organisations.

According to the report, unregulated legal provision accounts for around six to eight per cent of the overall legal market. The research, undertaken by Frontier Economics, The DataCity and BMG Research, provides insight into the views of smaller businesses concerning which firms they engage for their legal services and the criteria they use to make a decision. More specifically, the findings are based on a survey of 510 small business users of legal services, 162 providers of unreserved activities that are not regulated by the SRA, and engagement with a panel of industry experts.

Among the findings, the majority of those surveyed said affordability was the most influential factor when selecting a provider, and there was clear evidence that where prices were comparable, small business consumers would select a provider with greater protections in place. The research also found that consumers who chose to go with a regulated provider generally rated them higher in terms of quality of services, value for money, timeliness and customer service than those who used unregulated options.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Price, quality, levels of protection and experience can differ greatly from one supplier to the next, whether regulated or unregulated, and what is the right mix for one consumer is not necessarily the right option for the next. Past research shows that regulated providers are more affordable than many people think, so the real distinction between regulated and unregulated providers is the consumer protection available. Our clickable logo, which the firms we regulate must display, is designed to make that clear. Helping people to understand what their money is buying, and not buying, when they engage a legal services provider will help them make good decisions about the service that is right for them. That is all the more important as the non-regulated market develops.”