Largest ever legal needs survey in England and Wales

Largest ever legal needs survey in England and Wales

In the largest ever survey of legal needs in England and Wales, nearly 8,000 people responded to Ipsos-MORI’s questions about how they dealt with a range of over 16,000 legal issues. A separate and smaller study surveyed 161 young people (11-15 year olds) on their understanding and experience of legal issues.

In the main survey, legal issues raised included wills, probate, conveyancing, consumer rights, arrest, debt and more complex legal concerns such as relationship breakdown.

Key findings of the main survey include:

  • 54% of all those who responded had experienced at least one legal issue in the last three years.
  • Respondents were most likely to have had a consumer rights issue (33% amongst those with at least one issue), bought or sold a home (21%), made or executed a will or dealt with the estate of a deceased relative (20% and 17% respectively).
  • Disputes with neighbours (16%), problems with benefits (16%), debt/money problems (13%) and problems with an employer (12%) were also common issues. Only 3% had been arrested.
    Over three quarters of respondents who chose to seek advice were satisfied with both the quality of formal legal advice given (77%) and the outcome (78%).
  • 67% of issues (which were legal in nature) were not initially thought of as ‘legal’ issues.

Respondents tackled their problems in a variety of ways; 35% obtained legal advice; and 15% got help from family or friends. 34% of respondents tried to tackle them alone whilst 13% did nothing.

Legal Services Board’s Chairman Sir Michael Pitt said:

“Access to justice is a fundamental right but many people do not seek legal advice for a variety of reasons.


“Lack of information on legal rights and what legal services are available, the assistance they could provide, as well as preconceived expectations of the cost of legal services are among the main factors that influence whether legal advice is sought. This research co funded by the Law Society confirms the findings of previous LSB research.


“While only a minority of respondents with a legal problem did nothing about it, (13% of issues), formal advice was sought for just 35% of problems, with the majority of issues being handled alone or with help from friends or family.


“There is a wealth of information contained in this extensive and robust legal needs survey. The Legal Services Board and the Law Society are making all of this data freely available on our websites. We hope that anyone with an interest in legal services will use it to help inform policy development going forward, and help us all contribute to a legal services market that delivers better outcomes.”

Further information about the report can be found on the LSB web site

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