As we start a new year, so the government starts a new review into legal services in England and Wales to see if the sector is working well for consumers and small businesses.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set out its intention to examine long standing concerns about the affordability of legal services and standards of service along with addressing concerns regarding the complexity of the current regulatory framework.
This is also on the back of the governments announcement in November 2015 to launch a consultation by Spring 2016 on removing barriers to entry for alternative business models in legal services with the ultimate objective of encouraging competition.
What undoubtedly will emerge is a desire (one can hope) to balance value for money with professional standards, a tricky combination to achieve as has been proved in other sectors such as financial services.
Whilst we ourselves have been in business for the last 16 years, its fair to say that government reviews have come and gone but the majority of our Estate Planning colleagues have worked hard to improve the reputation of this particular area of legal services. Professional bodies such as the Society of Will Writers have banged the drum on the importance of conduct and education across the sector and have certainly supported in spreading the word in terms ensuring high standards of services are achieved at an affordable price to the public.
Operating as a regulated business ourselves, it’s been frustrating to see the less scrupulous service providers come and (thankfully go) over the years and we therefore welcome balanced scrutiny across the profession. This can surely only prove to cast a positive light on legal services businesses such as ours who’s primary focus is to provide professional and affordable Estate Planning solutions for all?
One things for sure, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the results of the CMA review or the government consultation for some time yet so in the meantime, we shall keep calm and carry on.