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Legal advice: Regulator warns against unregulated legal advice

The Legal Ombudsman has warned that cut-price, unregulated legal advice leaves people with nowhere to go if things go wrong, reports the Metro.

The Ombudsman's report identifies more than 130,000 agencies in England and Wales, offering 'alternative' legal advice at reduced rates or sometimes free of charge.

These providers operate outside of the security of regulation, something that the Ombudsman warns make them a risky option. 

Unregulated providers often offer 'DIY" legal solutions in areas such as wills and probate, employment law and debt.

The services are often offered by professionals working within their particular field, but as they are not trained and registered lawyers, there is no come back if the advice they offer turns out to be wrong.

The Ombudsman argues that going outside the legal profession for legal advice is a 'lottery', and has called on the Government to bring all the provision of legal advice under a single scheme.

"Buying legal advice is to some extent a lottery for consumers who are understandably confused about whether the people providing it are up to standard," said Elizabeth France, who chairs the board of the Legal Ombudsman.

"The time is right to start a focused debate on how to create a system that is accessible, transparent, effective and efficient both for consumers and businesses," she added.

Consumers who use non-legal services and advice are attracted by lower fees, but if advice turns out to be incorrect, they are not able to use the normal channels to resolve any subsequent dispute.