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Legal providers must do more to help small businesses, says regulator

23 Dec 2016

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called for legal service providers to provide greater transparency so that consumers and small businesses can more easily shop around for better deals.

Following a year-long study, the CMA has concluded that competition in legal services is not working well and that there is not enough information available on price, quality and service to help those who need legal support in choosing the best option.

The regulator has set out a package of measures, including:

  • a requirement on providers to display information on price, service, redress and regulatory status to help potential customers. This would include publishing pricing information for particular services online
  • revamping and promoting the existing Legal Choices website to serve as a starting point for customers needing help, information and guidance on how to navigate the market and purchase services; and
  • facilitating the development of comparison sites and other intermediaries to allow customers to compare providers in one place by making data already collected by regulators available.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), welcomed the report, saying: ‘Many small businesses could benefit from greater use of legal services, but currently the market is complex and difficult to navigate.

‘Smaller firms can often fail to recognise a problem as a legal issue, or assume a legal resolution to be too expensive, time consuming or risky to pursue. Greater transparency on price and quality of legal services will encourage more small businesses to seek expert advice when necessary.

‘We're pleased the CMA is now looking to close the gaps in the market we identified, by demanding greater transparency from legal service providers.’