Competition

CMA call for input into review of legal services market - Law Society response

The scope of the CMA review

On 9 September 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its call for input into its assessment of the 2016 market study into the legal services sector in England and Wales. Responses were sought by 30 September.

The scope of the CMA’s review was as follows:

  • the ability of consumers to drive effective competition through making informed purchasing decisions
  • the impact of redress, regulations and the regulatory framework on consumer protection and competition

The proposals

There were no specific proposals. However any recommendations that the CMA makes as a result of the review could have far reaching effects on legal services regulation.

Our view

While there are some indications of positive outcomes from the transparency measures that have been introduced, it is still relatively early days, particularly considering the significant disturbance caused by COVID-19, also in the context of extensive changes to legal services regulation.

As such, it's difficult to draw firm conclusions and it's likely further time is necessary for things to fully bed in.

Before considering further measures, work needs to be done to identify specific problems the measures would seek to address, with targeted, tailored and workable solutions being developed that would minimise unintended consequences.

Overall, we cautioned against further modifications in order to take time to fully evaluate the impact of all of the changes made in the context of this rapidly evolving market place and to analyse the nature and extent of any risks posed by perceived gaps in regulation.

What this means for solicitors

This remains uncertain. However, depending on what the CMA recommends following its analysis of the review, the impact on the profession could be significant.

Next steps

The closing date was 30 September and the CMA are due to publish their findings in December.

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