The fig-leaf of protection for consumer harm

It is almost two years since the Final Report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation was published (all of the Review’s papers are available here).  The catalyst for the Review was the market study carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority.  The CMA concluded that the legal sector was not working well for consumers.  In carrying out its work, the CMA made several references to consumer harm and detriment.  So, too, did the Final Report. 

However, what transpired in conversations following the Final Report was that the nature of consumer harm was largely being assumed or only illustrated.  A core goal of regulation – the protection of consumers from harm – faced some under-developed but important challenges.  What exactly are the types of consumer harm in legal services, the causes of that harm, the consequences of experienced harm, and the particular remedies that might be available for it (depending on its nature and who caused it)? 

The Supplementary Report to the IRLSR (Consumer harm and legal services: from fig leaf to legal well-being, published today) seeks to answer these questions, and this post is taken from the Preface.

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Regulation: from infection to inflection point

Here is a fascinating podcast: a conversation between Jordan Furlong (guest) and Professor Mike Madison of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (host) on the future of law, re-regulation, access to justice, and the rule of law. Over many years, Jordan has perfected the gift of identifying nails in the legal services sector and then hitting each of them firmly on the head. This episode has a good number of those nails. In this post, I pick up on some of the themes it explores.

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Misperceptions of ‘deregulation’

Last month, Boston Consulting Group published a report that claimed to assess the effects of deregulating legal services in England & Wales, as driven by the Legal Services Act 2007. The analysis and conclusions are, to put it at its best, disappointing. I am grateful to have been spared the need to offer a detailed review, thanks to this informed critique of the report by Alison Hook.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that the report’s authors based some of their work on my independent review (Legal Services Reform: Regulation Beyond the Echo Chambers, published last year). However, having done so, their report could encourage others to take my principal conclusion – that further reform is needed – and, contrary to my intention, use it to amplify the echo within the chambers of my title.

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