The Legal Services Board (LSB) is warning consumers about the dangers of online divorce, after research found that more than one in ten divorces are dealt with through unregulated online providers.
According to the LSB, 10 to 13 per cent of the market is serviced by unregulated providers; often fee-charging, unqualified McKenzie Friends. It says that users of such services can often fall victim to misleading advertising claims and unanticipated problems.
Law Society chief executive, Catherine Dixon, said: “Many legal services can be provided by regulated and unregulated providers. If purchased from a solicitor, buyers can rest assured that the service is fully regulated, insurance is in place and, in the event 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.
“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.
“This can be exacerbated if the unregulated provider calls themselves a lawyer, which is not a protected title. We think you should only be able to call yourself a lawyer if you are a qualified legal practitioner… [But] many consumers may not know the difference, which can leave them exposed.”
Kevin Double, family law expert at Palmers, said: “The key problem is that consumers may not realise these online sites are unregulated – and what this means if things go wrong. During times as difficult as divorce, the temptation to find a quick, cheap solution is understandable.
“But the problem – as with most things – is you often get what you pay for. If the price seems too good to be true, alarm bells should ring.
“A good solicitor will give you a cost breakdown from the outset, with no nasty surprises. Divorce is not a ‘one size fits all’ service and must be tailored to take into account each person’s individual circumstances”.
Palmers Solicitors advise on all aspects of family law. For more information, please contact our South Woodham Ferrers team at email@example.com