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Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Learning from long term experiences in the personal injury legal services market

The Legal Services Board (LSB) is today publishing the findings of an investigation into changes in access to justice in the personal injury legal services market during the period 1999-2013, and the extent to which any lessons can be drawn for regulators and policy makers.

The research, undertaken by London Economics on behalf of the LSB, covered a period in which significant regulatory and legislative interventions were seen in the personal injury market.
The following insights can be drawn from the report, which:

  • highlights the lack of objective data on longer term changes in this area which makes learning from the past more difficult
  • suggests that the significant legislative and regulatory changes during the period in question have had little impact on access to justice when looked at from the perspective of a consumer with a legitimate claim
  • notes that free-at-the-point-of-use legal services (a common feature of the personal injury market) are effective at increasing access to justice which confirms a view that a continuing focus on value for money for individuals is essential to support access to justice
  • counsels that the government needs to continue to balance competing objectives in public policy decision making, making it easy to enforce rights to compensation but minimising the risk of fraudulent or spurious claims, and
  • recommends that regulators need a better understanding of the legal services market if they are to ensure the effectiveness of legal services regulation in achieving desired outcomes.

Caroline Wallace, LSB Strategy Director said:

"The development of the personal injury market undoubtedly polarises opinion.

The research we have published today is unlikely to settle that debate. But what it does do is confirm one important fact that is too important to be overlooked - that there is a continued lack of understanding of the needs of consumers in debates around legal services generally – not just in relation to personal injury.

We encourage all regulators and interested stakeholders to work together to commission frequent large scale legal need surveys with publication of survey data sets for all to use.

This should mean that in future, debates can be based to a greater extent on evidence rather than on antecedence, assumption, and anecdote, and regulators can demonstrate the value and impact of their interventions on the regulatory objectives set out in the Legal Services Act.

I would also point to our 2013 small business legal need survey as evidence of the value of such an approach in helping legal service providers better understand consumer needs."

For further information, please contact our Corporate Director Julie Myers or by calling 020 7271 0059.

Notes for editors:

  1. This Access to Justice report can be found here.
  2. The Legal Services Act 2007 created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
  3. The LSB oversees eight approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual lawyers. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the Association of Costs Lawyers.
  4. In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are listed as approved regulators in relation only to reserved probate activities.
  5. As at 1 April 2014, the legal profession comprised 138,243 solicitors, 326 alternative business structures, 15,279 barristers, 7,927 chartered legal executives and 5,404 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The sector was valued at £29.2 billion in 2013 (total turnover).