Is there enough accessible legal information for consumers?

 

In April 2013 the Legal Services Board released a document surveying whether consumers' needs for easily accessible legal information in the UK were met. The resounding opinion of the survey was 'No'.

According to the survey, consumers see the Internet as 'failing to meet their needs'.

The Legal Services Board

The Legal Services Board was set up in 2009 to ensure that regulation in the legal industry is carried out in the public's interest. The core aspect of its role was to place consumer needs at the heart of the industry.

To this end they have produced several reports of interest, including reports on access to justice and regulatory issues within conveyancing. For more information go to the Legal Services Board website.

What do consumers think of the law?

There were several issues to come out of this latest report.

The first was that the law is treated differently to other professions. Unsurprisingly, most people are aware of their limitations, and therefore when to bring professionals in. For example, people know when they should call an electrician, or a plumber, because the work required is beyond their capability.

However, many people aren't even sure whether a solicitor could be of help at all in many cases.

Secondly, consumers had a clear idea of when it was worth paying a professional - for example a travel agent - to do work that could be done themselves but that would take time. There was a clear cost/time trade-off. With the law, consumers aren't sure that this is the case, and often have the perception that solicitor fees could escalate out of control.

And finally, there is a feeling that if you need a solicitor to help resolve a dispute and you are in the right, then why should you pay? If your neighbour is encroaching on to your land, for example, why should you have to pay a solicitor to tell them to stop?

Greater understanding is required

This last point highlights exactly why more knowledge is required. If people were more comfortable with the law and solicitors in general, then the second point would probably override the third - the initial outlay of cash is worth it to prevent ongoing hassle.

At Caven we want to make it easier for people to speak to solicitors and access justice. We think it's a shame that consumers think there isn't enough trustworthy, accessible information out there.

We are commercial - we're not denying that - but we are also aware of the fact that our staff here in the office have spoken to more than 400,000 people about their case in the past six and a half years. That's an awful lot of advice. And our site, whilst having the obvious capability to contact us, also contains information on almost all aspects of the law.

This information can be absorbed, ignored, taken away or written down according to the consumer's wishes.

We want consumers to be more informed, and will be doing our best to make our site even more accessible and informative in the future. And if you're looking for information on an aspect of the law, you could do worse than go to our understand your legal issue page!

Here is the link for the Legal Services Board consumer needs report. And if you have an opinion about the information on our site, please contact Ben, the Website Manager, using ben.letham@caven.org.uk. Suggestions for improvements are always welcome.

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