Kerry Underwood

ABS’s: THE ENEMY WITHIN AND THE CURIOUS INCIDENT

with 4 comments


As The Enemy Within seek further powers to destroy the legal system of England and Wales and thus to destroy society itself, it is worth considering the curious incident of the Ministry of Justice’s survey of the impact of Alternative Business Structures and Legal Services Reform generally.

 

The curious incident is that there has been no such survey.

 

In March 2010 the Ministry of Justice published a research paper entitled:

 

Baseline survey to assess the impact of legal services reform

 

Its findings are interesting and, arguably, surprising.  It is required reading for every lawyer in the land.

 

It shows a satisfaction rating rarely matched by any other group of professionals or workers, and proves what we all knew all along, that the Legal Services Act and Alternative Business Structures address a non-existent problem.

 

As the name suggests, the idea of a baseline survey is that you see what the position is before any given reforms and you then conduct a further survey to assess the impact of those reforms. This is borne out by the title of that March 2010 research paper as set out above.

 

That survey showed a satisfaction rating rarely matched by any other group of professionals or workers, and proves what we all knew all along, that the Legal Services Act and Alternative Business Structures sought to address a non-existent problem.

 

Nevertheless, it would still be very interesting to see what the public think of Legal Services Reform generally, such as the virtual abolition of legal aid, the enormous increase in court fees – over 600% in many instances, as well as Alternative Business Structures and bodies such as Quindell, Co-Op Legal Services, Eddie Stobart, Saga Law and various organizations which have already gone bust and/or pulled out of legal services.

 

Obviously the reason that the Ministry of Justice, not known for being a friend of the truth, has failed to commission a follow up survey, could not possibly be that it is virtually impossible to improve on the public’s rating of solicitors as shown by the baseline survey, could it?

 

Could it?
Here are the key points from that survey:-

 

Key findings

 

  • 34% of people in England and Wales aged over 16 had used legal services in the previous three years;

 

  • 91% felt that they had received a good service (84% agreeing a lot and 7% agreeing a little);

 

  • 92% were satisfied with the outcome;

 

  • 92% felt that the provider acted in their best interests;

 

  • 13% felt that they were not given good value for money;

 

  • 2% complained.

 

Detail

 

Services used and with the percentage using them were:

 

Use of legal services for personal matters in the last three years
Used in the last three years

%

The most recent matter

%

Conveyancing 50 38
Will writing 27 18
Probate 17 10
Family matters 15 9
Accident or injury claims 11 9
Housing, landlord or tenant problems 4 3
Employment disputes 3 2
Any offences or criminal charges 3 2
Immigration matters 2 2
Problems with consumer services or goods 1 1
Advice and appeals about benefits or tax credits 1 1
Debt or hire purchase problems 1 1

 

Authorised providers, that is lawyers, were used in 95% of cases.

 

81% of users said that the main person handling their matter was a solicitor or trainee solicitor.

 

 

Source

 

Recommendation by family or friends 29%
Past experience 23%
Referrals 23%
Advertising 5%
Information search (eg internet) 5%

 

 

Source by most recent matter type

Conveyancing Will writing Probate Family matters Accident or injury Other personal matter Total

%

Recommendation by family or friends 31 22 24 41 27 29 29
User or family member had used provider before 22 31 51 8 4 19 23
Referral by another organisation 29 11 5 15 49 23 23
Saw local offices 5 13 9 16 4 5 8
Responded to advertising or contact 2 14 1 4 8 6 5
Searched for information 3 3 3 13 6 10 5
Knew someone who worked there 6 2 2 1 2 2 3
Other answers 1 4 4 1 6 2
Don’t know 1 *

 

 

Multiple usage

 

Of the 34% who had used legal services in the previous three years;

 

  • 77% had during that period used legal services for at least one matter;

 

  • 31% had during that period used legal services for two or three other matters;

 

  • 25% had during that period used legal services for four or more other matters;

 

  • 4% had during that period used legal services for 10 or more other matters.

 

Payment

 

How legal services were paid for

 

Total

%

With own (or family’s or friend’s) money 78
Through legal aid 6
Through insurance 5
A free service (excluding no win, no fee arrangements) 5
Through a no win, no fee arrangement (conditional/contingency fee) 4
By trade union 1
In another way 3

 

Some methods of payment were associated with particular types of matter.  For example for accident and injury matters 42% were paid for through insurance and 39% through conditional or contingency fees.  In family matters 31% were paid for by legal aid.

 

 

How legal services were paid for by most recent type

 

Convey-ancing

%

Will writing

%

Probate

%

Family matters

%

Accident or injury

%

Other personal matter

%

Total

%

With own (or family’s or friend’s) money 99 93 97 67 6 49 78
Through legal aid 1 31 6 14 6
Through insurance 42 7 5
A free service (excluding no win, no fee arrangements) 1 4 3 8 6 17 5
Through a no win, no fee arrangement (conditional/ contingency fee) * 39 1 4
By trade union 2 6 2 1
In another way 1 2 2 4 10 3

 

 

 

 

Fees quoted by most recent matter or type

 

Conveyancing

%

Will writing

%

Probate

%

Family matters

%

Accident or injury

%

Other personal matter

%

Total

%

Fee quoted 96 90 82 95 25 78 88
fixed fee 61 70 27 11 8 36 51
estimate 31 15 39 42 15 25 27
hourly fee 4 5 16 42 3 17 9
No fee quoted 4 9 18 5 48 14 10
Told would not have to pay 1 28 8 3

 

 

Types of legal service providers used

 

Total %
Authorised providers 95
– Solicitors 94
– Barristers 3
– Notaries *
– Licensed conveyancers *
   
Non-authorised providers 5
Will writer 1
Citizens Advice Bureau 1
Financial adviser 1
Community legal advice centre 1
Trade union *
Company dealing with accident and injury claims *
Estate agent *

 

 

Source

 

How users first heard about main provider

 

Total %
Recommendation by family or friends 29
User or family member had used provider before 23
Referral by another organisation 23
Saw local offices 8
Responded to advertising or contact 5
Searched for information 5
Knew someone who worked there 3
Other answers 2
Don’t know *

 

The figure of 23% for referrals breaks down as follow, with the figures below being the percentage of the whole range of sources, not the percentage of referral work.

 

By another legal organization 4%
Insurance company/trade union                 5%
Others (claims management companies, estate agents, financial        advisers etc) 14%

 

 

Other

 

79% felt that they had a lot or a fair amount of choice of provider;

 

93% felt that it was very or fairly easy to choose a provider;

 

92% were given the name of a particular person who would handle their matter.

 

 

Basis of charging

 

 

Total %

Fee quoted 88
fixed fee 51
estimate 27
hourly fee 9
No fee quoted 10
Told would not have to pay 3

 

 

Communication

 

94% said that they were able to deal with their provider whey they needed to;
85% communicated by telephone;
59% visited the provider’s office;
46% communicated by post;
28% communicated by email

 

When users were asked to specify their main method of communication 59% said the telephone and 22% said personal visits.

 

When asked their preferred method of communication

 

51%        said telephone

41%        said personal visits

22%        said email

20%        said post

 

The report states:

 

“Personal contact was regarded as essential for progressing matters”

 

“Most people had chosen providers that were conveniently situation”.

 

 

Other service standards

 

96% agreed that the lawyer explained things in a way that the client could understand;

 

95% agreed that the lawyer acted in a professional manner;
94% knew what was going on in the matter
94% agreed that the lawyer was approachable
89% agreed that the lawyer responded to calls and letters promptly;
86% said that they would be likely to recommend the provider and 63% said that they were very likely to do so.

 

 

Satisfaction rates

 

Conveyancing 95%

 

Will-writing 96%
Family 86%
Accidents 78%

 

 

Problems and complaints

 

10% said that there was a problem or issue with their legal service that they were unhappy about.

 

The rate of problems for family matters was 22% and for conveyancing 9% and for will writing 5%.

 

The following table shows the issues that the 10% had were

 

%
Delays/the amount of time the matter took 36
Mistakes 28
Not kept up to date/informed 27
Costs or bill too high 23
Standards/quality of service provided 21
Treatment by provider’s staff 11
Other answers 13
Don’t know 2

 

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Written by kerryunderwood

September 15, 2016 at 7:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Metamorph Law to you……..

    a.twambley@sky.com

    September 15, 2016 at 7:58 am

  2. It’s an interesting survey, but there are some very odd figures in relation to personal injury claims. For example, I find it hard to believe that 42% of these were paid for by insurance and only 39% through CFA’s. I would have thought the large majority of claims were CFA funded.

    It also says that 33% of PI claims were dealt with either on a fee quoted or fixed fee basis. Again, this surely cannot be correct. The only situation where I could envisage this happening would be a small claims case, but they must represent a vanishingly small percentage of cases, and nowhere near a third of them.

    Michael

    September 15, 2016 at 11:14 am

    • Data goes back to 2006 and reflects use of BTE insurance and selling of cases by them. Fits in with 49% being recommended by referral body. Many firms quoted fee as per “predictive” costs formula. The figures pretty much reflect my experience of consultancies for firms.

      Kerry

      kerryunderwood

      September 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm


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