A Legal Services Consumer Panel report has praised the SRA for making consumers’ lives easier when choosing legal services and understanding their rights.
The report is entitled “Empowering Consumers Background Paper 2: learning from other sectors” and available here.
Ten themes are used to measure success in the report, which measures policy across a number of sectors including aviation, communications, dentistry, energy, financial services, food safety, health and social care, higher education and social housing.
The SRA received praise in a number of areas;
- for having a specific area of its website targeted at consumers
- letting consumers know in simple terms what to expect from their lawyer and what to do if something goes wrong
- providing clear information about complaints handling, including signposting to the Legal Ombudsman
- working with other legal regulators to develop a public services network Legal Voices – to be launched in 2013
- launching a new package of research that aims to improve experiences and access to legal services for consumers who are vulnerable and in need of support
- publishing details of disciplinary decisions
- proactively seeking to engage with vulnerable consumers to improve access to information on legal services
- making efforts to ensure that compliance is not achieved by just providing information to consumers but ensuring they understand.
As well as highlighting existing good practice shown by legal service regulators, the report makes a number of recommendations for improvement.
Recommendations were made that regulators should work with third sector providers such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Money Advice Service; open up data about regulatory performance and their professional registers; and ensure comparison sites support consumers in choosing and using legal services.
Mehrunnisa Lalani, director of inclusion, SRA, said: "We were interested to read the discussion paper and the points raised by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, and pleased that the efforts we are making to empower consumers have been recognised.
"We are already working with the Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure that the information on legal services being given out is current and as comprehensive as possible and are hoping to strengthen this co-operation in the future.
"While we’re proud of the achievements to date, we recognise there are areas where we need to improve, and our consumer affairs strategy is developing continuously to that end.”