A third of the population stated that they did not understand their legal rights and two thirds said that they were put off working with a lawyer due to fears of cost.
The study, commissioned by LawOptions.co.uk, found that one third of people stated that they would not know how to select a lawyer to help them with their problem and one in five think that legal proceedings are too complex. The same number worry that they would not understand legal terminology.
A further one in ten feel that they do not have time to process a legal problem whilst juggling the pressures of work and running a household.
The research gives shocking results on the number of consumers dealing with legal issues without professional help which the recent annual Bar Conference focused on, discussing access to justice and the impact of reforms to the £2 billion legal aid budget.
Partner at LawOptions.co.uk, Hazel Roberts, says: “It is a worry that consumers are reluctant to seek professional help on important issues due to fears such as cost and complexity. Changes to the system of awarding Legal Aid has meant that there are now many people who are vulnerable or on low incomes who are falling through the net and not getting much needed professional advice and protection.”
Changes to Legal Aid in February 2009 saw the Ministry of Justice control expenditure on private family law disputes such as child contact and custody disputes and reduce expenditure on cases in which divorcing couples have disputes over property.
The danger of reduced Legal Aid to assist consumers process legal issues was raised recently by Lord Chief Justice stating that lack of financial support is excluding numbers of people from civil courts.
The comment from the head of the judiciary in England and Wales stated that “I do believe that we have to provide a place in which citizens can go to court and seek remedy for a wrong that has been done to them, and they shouldn’t be priced out, as it looks as though some are being” comes as new research reveals a reluctance to use professional legal help.
Recently, Desmond Browne QC, this year’s chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales also stated that “We are now heading for two standards of justice, dependent on the ability to pay” and agreed that the proposed cuts to legal aid will hit the most vulnerable in society.
Of the 3,000 people interviewed, over half (52%) stated that the legal process of divorce scared them with one third of married couples being put off from splitting wit their partner due to their lack of knowledge regarding divorce proceedings.
Lawoptions.co.uk, the new online legal service backed by Canter, Levin and Berg, one of the oldest law firms in the UK aims to challenge the way that consumers access legal advice. The firm, which launched at the start of October offers a 24/7 service with fixed price products to give consumers convenience and clarity on costs from the outset. Consumers have direct communication with qualified case handlers via email and phone contact. Consumers can even track progress on their case via Sky TV and Virgin Media.
Consumer barriers to selecting professional legal advice:
1. Too expensive
2. Don’t know how to select the right lawyer
3. Legal proceedings are too complex
4. Fear of understanding legal terminology
5. Can’t fit meetings in around work and household commitments
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Notes to editors
LawOptions.co.uk is the first law firm to offer consumers a complete solution for all legal needs on Family, Employment, Road Traffic Accidents, Conveyancing, Personal Injury, Wills and Probate, General Disputes and Speeding Offences, 24-hours a day.
The company is backed by Canter Levin and Berg, one of the oldest law firms in the North West of England. Canter Levin and Berg has been providing legal services since 1947 and is Lexcel accredited, approved by the Law Society and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority [SRA Number 44668].
A survey of 3,000 people was carried out by OnePoll.com.
Hotline: 08000 11 3333
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LawOptions.co.uk is the first law firm to offer consumers a complete solution for all legal needs on family, employment, road traffic accidents, conveyancing, personal injury, wills and probate, general disputes and speeding offences, 24 hours a day.