LEGAL SERVICES CONSUMER PANEL: A BLOT ON THE LANDSCAPE
Yes, this useless publicly funded body is at it again. This time it is a gibberish response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s interim report into the Legal Services Market.
“We agree with the overall finding that competition is not working well in this market because of a chronically weak demand side. Consumers are not empowered with the information they need to shop around or choose the most appropriate legal service provider for their needs. Consequently, their ability to drive competition is hampered.”
The response then complains that most people do not shop around and that their survey showed that in 2011 19% shopped around – “This had improved by 2016, but still only 25% of users of legal services said they had shopped around.”
Where do I begin? The idea that clients do not shop around is absurd and frankly a lie. Perhaps Elisabeth Davies, Chair, Legal Services Consumer Panel and author of this response, would care to come and sit in any solicitor’s office any day of the week and deal with the new client enquiries and give out the quotes for conveyancing and wills and Powers of Attorney and first free interviews etc.
Indeed Ms Davies is welcome to come in and look at my firm’s entire redacted new client enquiries file.
Virtually all solicitors now have things called websites and virtually all potential clients have access to computers to look at those websites. Those clients who want to shop around can, and do.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel starts on the basis that shopping around is good – see the term “improved” quoted above. Why so? If I am satisfied with an existing provider I do not shop around. I go to the same butcher each week. I do not shop around. I am interested in quality and service rather than price. Most people are the same.
Thus an increase in those shopping around is a bad thing, not a good thing, and we all know that shopping around is on price and not quality.
The good news is that on the Legal Services Consumer Panel’s own surveys 75% of people still do not feel the need to shop around in relation to the provision of legal services, presumably because they are entirely happy with their existing providers.
On this point please see Baseline survey to assess the impact of legal services reform.
Under “The case for regulatory intervention” there are then three paragraphs which I do not pretend to understand. Please read them for yourself and see if you can make any more sense of them.
Suffice to say that solicitors in England and Wales are subject to greater regulation in terms of pricing information to be given and the consequences of not giving it, than any other body on Earth.
A reminder to the Legal Services Consumer Panel: the Solicitors Act 1974 allows any client to challenge any solicitor’s bill. Any solicitor’s bill must be signed personally by a partner. That is an extreme form of regulatory intervention. Of course these parasitic quangos do not see Acts of Parliament as regulation. What they mean by regulation is the creation of endless, useless, expensive, damaging bodies like themselves handing out meaningless and damaging jobs at public expense.
Legal Services Ombudsman
There is a thing called the Legal Services Ombudsman. I could go on and on. Read it yourself. Even by the abysmal standards of these abysmal people this plumbs new depths. I set out the final section of the response:-
Rather than set out a detailed blueprint for change, the Panel suggested some success criteria to inform options for a future regulatory system:
- Improved access to the Legal Ombudsman for legal services transactions
- Regulation which is fully independent of the profession
- Consumer-focused regulatory objectives
- A simple system that starts from a consumer journey perspective
- A flexible regime better targeted at the risks facing consumers, one focused on the activity rather than the person doing the work
- Strong and effective consumer representation
- A strong emphasis on evidence-based policy making including direct engagement with consumers and robust datasets
- Transparent working and accountability for performance
- Avoidance of duplication of processes while respecting the diversity of providers
- Sustainable resourcing and delivery of effective regulation with a level of investment that reflects the contribution which the sector makes to GDP and its importance to wider societal objectives”
What the hell does any of that mean?
“A simple system that starts from a consumer journey perspective”
Just take this headline.
Ah yes. A custody dispute involving two children. “One and two halves to the Divorce Court please”. You just get on the bus, read the paper, have a sandwich and get off at the other end.
There is a tiny problem. In litigation there is always someone else trying to stop your journey, derail your train, sink your boat or crash your bus.
It is like comparing a day trip to France with the D-Day landings.
“I know I robbed the bank and shot someone but from my consumer journey perspective I don’t want the journey to end in Wormwood Scrubs.”
It is Bridget “Baked Beans” Prentice all over again. The reason why buying baked beans is not the same as purchasing legal services is that in a supermarket there is not normally someone trying to throw all of your purchases out of the basket, as there is in litigation.
“A flexible regime better targeted at the risks facing consumers, one focused on the activity rather than the person doing the work”
Ah yes. We are all equal. Those who have trained and studied and qualified and have professional negligence insurance etc. should have no more rights than anyone else to practice law, or medicine or teach, or be a police officer, or serve in the army or whatever.
Let us transfer this concept over to the stage or sport.
On that basis 90,000 people will watch a football match in the park, the same as the number who will go to Wembley.
Fat Fred from the Dog and Duck will get the same TV audience as an Olympic gold medal winner.
Ten million people will go to the local Am-Dram production, just the same number as would watch a major TV drama with major stars.
And so it goes on.
These useless, publicly funded parasitic bodies should all be scrapped overnight.
Consumerism is all about the individual at the expense of society. It is a morally bankrupt concept.