Increasing market transparency for consumers



Increasing market transparency for consumers

This project includes our response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) legal services market study and work on related issues.


CMA market study

Between 13 January 2016 and 15 December 2016 the CMA carried out a market study into legal services to see if they were working well for consumers and business. Further details of the CMA study can be found on their website:


CMA recommendations to the LSB

The CMA made a specific recommendation to the LSB that it:

  • Monitors and engages with the frontline regulators on their progress in implementing the CMA’s recommendations directed to them
  • Reports publicly, at appropriate intervals, on the sufficiency of action plans published by regulators individually and collectively and the progress in delivering those action plans
  • Takes appropriate action where regulators fail to address information gaps.

We have agreed to this recommendation and published a document which explains how we will deliver it. You can find this document below in the key documents section.


CMA recommendations to the regulators

CMA recommended that the regulators develop action plans by 30 June to increase market transparency covering the following four areas:

  • Action to deliver a step change in standards of transparency to help consumers (i) to understand the price and service they will receive, what redress is available and the regulatory status of their provider and (ii) to compare providers
  • Promotion of the use of independent feedback platforms to help consumers to understand the quality of service offered by competing providers
  • Facilitation of the development of a dynamic intermediary market through making data more accessible to comparison tools and other intermediaries
  • Making better information available to assist consumers when they are identifying their legal needs and the types of legal services providers (both regulated and unregulated) who can help them.

Regulator action plans

The LSB has received action plans from all the regulators. In line with CMA’s recommendation, the LSB has assessed the sufficiency of all the plans:

Regulator: 
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment


Regulator: 
Bar Standards Board

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
CILEx Regulation

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
Costs Lawyer Standards Board

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
Council for Licensed Conveyancers

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to sufficiency assessment
Progress report


Regulator:
Intellectual Property Regulation Board

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
Faculty Office

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Regulator:
Solicitors Regulation Authority

Link to action plan: 
Action plan

Link to sufficiency assessment
Assessment

Link to progress report
Progress report


Key documents

The LSB engaged with the CMA throughout its market study. In particular, we made a series of announcements and made written submissions to the CMA at different stages, which you can find below.


Work on related issues

In August 2016 we asked the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP) to provide advice on the effectiveness of information remedies in legal services regulation and how these could be improved. When we refer to ‘information remedies’ in the context of legal services regulation we mean information which an approved regulator requires authorised persons to provide to consumers at any stage – this could be when purchasing a legal service, during service delivery or dealing with a complaint. The LSCP published a report in March 2017 and we will publish our response in due course.

The LSCP’s advice followed previous work on open data, which we are taking forward as part of our response to the CMA’s market study. Further information on our historic work can be accessed here.

We are also monitoring the CMA’s separate market study into digital comparison tools (DCTs), which is examining whether the DCT sector is working well for consumers, and to determine how to maximise the benefits they offer. The LSB welcomed this market study in its response to the statement of scope in October 2016.The CMA published the final report of this market study in September 2017: CMA Digital comparison tools market study.