Are Legal Services Regulated?

The short answer is “No”. Regulated legal services are regulated but there are many legal services that can be provided by unregulated businesses. Regulated legal services, with independently reviewed standards, complaints procedures and insurance, are provided by Solicitors, Barristers, Patent Agents, Legal Executives and Licensed Conveyancers.

If you are using anyone else, their services are not regulated, and your rights are limited to your contract with them, and the small print that they have included. In many cases that small print excludes all liability to you. Some may be members of trade organisations, but the effectiveness of those is variable.

We are regulated by the SRA, and have to give you information about who is doing your work, their status, what you will be charged, and protection against defaults by us, and protection for your funds if we hold them. If you are using an unregulated Legal Services Business, are they qualified to give you good advice, do you really know what they are going to cost and what happens if things go wrong?

The Legal Services Board, which is the “Super Regulator” for legal services is recommending that Will Writing and administering Probate should be regulated. At present there are many Will Writers, whose qualities are variable. We have seen firms come and go, and wonder what happens to the Wills they wrote. When we’ve looked at their charges, they are often more expensive than us because the price on their advert is only the start. Some Will Writing businesses are franchises, and the only qualification that the people have is going on a course for a couple of days. Also, they will be looking to use the opportunity to sell you other products, on which they will be earning commission.

The Legal Services Ombudsman has reported a major issue with people complaining about unregulated legal services, with which the Ombudsman cannot deal. If you are going to get legal advice you need to be confident at the outset about who is providing it.