The Legal Services Board recently published findings from its research project which found that 10 - 13% of the market was serviced by unregulated, online divorce providers or fee-charging McKenzie Friends. Many firms are surprised by this figure but it is not surprising given that a great number of people are petrified of incurring "thousands of pounds" in legal fees from regulated solicitors.
What many people do not realise is that these online providers and McKenzie Friends are often unregulated and uninsured. The advice they provide may not even be from someone who is legally qualified. Solicitors fees may seem excessive (and often are) but many firms do offer fixed fees at a reduced rate for straight forward or non-complex work. Always remember to ask for details of any fixed fees that can be agreed in advance or whether a free consultation is a possibility.
Don't get caught out by acting on advice which may or may not be valid from an unregulated provider, just because it was cheaper or less intimidating than consulting a qualified professional.
"Many legal services can be provided by regulated and unregulated providers. 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." "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 from an unregulated provider if something goes wrong."