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Non-financial barriers to accessing legal services

Background

LSB research has found that the majority of consumers (individuals and small businesses) with legal problems do not seek independent legal advice. Enabling need for legal services to be met more effectively is one of our key strategic priorities for 2015-18.

During 2015-16 we undertook a project which sought to identify relevant approaches in other sectors to making services more accessible to consumers. The project focussed on the following barriers to access:

  1. Inaccessible language and communications.
  2. Lack of trust.
  3. Failure to cater for the needs of vulnerable consumers.

In order to explore relevant innovations in other sectors, we reviewed 19 research reports and numerous consultations and policy statements. In addition, we met with the following bodies:

  • British Standards Institution
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Financial Ombudsman Service
  • General Dental Council
  • National Employment Savings Trust
  • Patient Information Forum
  • Trustmark
  • UK Regulators Network (through which we participated in a workshop)

This enabled us to identify a number of approaches that we believe could be applied in the legal sector.

 

Project report

In March 2016 we published a report on this project, outlining the findings from our explorations of other sectors.

The findings are presented under five key themes:

  1. Encouraging or requiring summary disclosure of key information by providers.
  2. Using consumer research to develop guides or toolkits for providers on accessible language and communications.
  3. Developing simple, plain English guides explaining regulation to consumers.
  4. Developing logos or other visual representations for providers to use to denote regulation.
  5. Embedding the importance of consumer vulnerability within the regulatory framework.

 

Contact

If you would like to discuss this project further or contribute any ideas, please contact Chris Nichols (Regulatory Project Manager) at chris.nichols@legalservicesboard.org.uk.