CMA Publishes Interim Report
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its interim report setting out its initial findings and emerging views into the provision of legal services in England and Wales intended to help it better understand the experiences of individual and small businesses consumers in the legal services sector.
In the report, the CMA stated that they found that “legal services markets are not functioning as well as they might.” They go on to say that they believe that “a lack of transparency of price and service make it harder for consumers to compare providers and identify value for money” enabling providers to “negotiate prices on an individual basis rather than committing to standard prices.”
The report went on to state that whilst the CMA had some concerns that consumers are “unaware of the differences in consumer protection between regulated and unregulated providers” they “have not found that consumers are exposed to material risks as a result of a lack of knowledge” and in any event they have not found that the “quality of services carried out by unregulated providers is lower than that of regulated providers.” However, they did find a “lack of clarity” in relation to fees information but no evidence that consumers are being harmed by any lack of clarity around redress mechanisms.
Taking the findings together, the CMA have concluded, inter alia, that at this stage way of increasing transparency of fees and quality is required and that unless this is achieved then changes to the regulatory framework are unlikely to be effective.