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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Legal services regulation: turning point, or point of no return?

Earlier this month, I was invited to give the Wickwire Memorial Lecture at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Canada. Frederick B. (Ted) Wickwire QC, a graduate of the School, was the President of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. He died in office at the age of 52 in 1991.

Ted Wickwire was noted for his commitment to public service and to uncompromising professionalism. Each year, a lecture is held in his memory, focusing on an aspect of professional ethics.

It was a great honour to deliver this year’s Lecture, albeit with the constraints of virtual presence. The full text of the Lecture is available for download here.

The Lecture presented an opportunity for me to reflect on some of the underlying themes of my independent review of legal services regulation in England & Wales. In particular, I explored the emerging and increasingly uncomfortable tension between regulation and professionalism.

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