Articles about solicitors and legal services

Will writing may become regulated to protect the public

The Legal Services Board is considering whether will writing services should be regulated to protect the public from unqualified providers.

There has been growing concern in recent years that unqualified will writers are providing an expensive and often inadequate service to unsuspecting consumers.

The problem was highlighted by the Legal Ombudsman, Adam Sampson, in his annual report. He referred to the fact that many legal services such as will writing, conveyancing and family law are not regulated.

This allows unqualified people to set up in practice, often without insurance. They are also outside the control of the Legal Ombudsman so there is little consumers can do if things go wrong.

Mr Sampson says he has received thousands of complaints which he cannot investigate because they involve unregulated practitioners.

"One service which crops up a lot is will-writing. It’s a service carried out often by will-writing firms which aren’t regulated. Because of this customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong."

By contrast, all law firms are fully regulated and have to follow strict codes of conduct. They can also be held accountable on the few occasions when things go wrong, a fact acknowledged by Mr Sampson.

"Most lawyers do a good job for their clients and, when things do go wrong, we generally see a great willingness from the profession to work and to learn with us."

The Legal Services Board Consumer Panel recently recommended that will writing should be regulated and this is now being considered.

The Law Society has been campaigning for will writing to be regulated and welcomed the move.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: "The Society has seen too many examples of dishonesty and bad practice from unregulated will-writers and we have been campaigning for many years to have this addressed."

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