Unregulated online divorce providers make up more than ten per cent of the market, new research suggests.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) surveyed unregulated providers, conducting interviews, assessing websites and literature and speaking to regulatory bodies.
The findings indicate that unregulated websites and fee-charging McKenzie Friends now account for between 10 and 13 per cent of divorces in England and Wales. Eleven websites were identified, serving between 23,000 and 30,000 clients per year.
Prices are a major pull, the LSB says, while the principal risks faced by customers of such sites are misleading advertising claims and the absence of informed legal advice on the options available.
Law Society Chief Executive Catherine Dixon explained the differences between the regulated and unregulated sectors.
“If legal services are purchased from a solicitor, buyers can rest assured that the service is fully regulated, that insurance is in place, and that in the event that something goes wrong they have the right to redress.”
But, she continued:
“Unfortunately, however, it is not always clear to consumers whether they are buying from a regulated provider. As the LSB research shows, there are a number of unregulated providers supplying the same legal services as solicitors and many buyers simply will not know that they won’t get the same level of protection.”
The Legal Services Board oversees the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales.
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