There’s news this week that the Co-op are to enter the murky world of legal services.
The Legal Services Act allows non-legal firms to offer legal products. As such, the Co-op, well known for retail, banking and funeral services, is to take up the mantle of conveyancing, matrimonial disputes, probate and family law issues. So, in effect, they will become a cradle to grave entity that can literally provide for events and issues that we all face throughout our lives. A one stop ‘life cycle’ shop type of thing?
The new Act was formerly dubbed the Tesco Law as it was presupposed that the mighty multi-store retailer would continue its foray into selling everything possible to include those items that were previously restricted to dusty lawyers offices. But Tesco is yet to show its hand and may well decide that with woes closer to its core business reflected in a profit warning this week, that they are better off concentrating on getting beans and bread back on track before diversifying further by playing lawyers.
Asides from the question of the accolade of which entity will become the biggest non-law firm legal provider, this opening up of the legal profession is a very good thing in our view. Deregulation is fundamental to ensuring free markets and competitive pricing. The consumer will thus benefit by way of extended competition.
High Street law firms, solicitors and conveyancers currently, have a lot to fear. Steep pricing, Dickensian opening hours, shockingly slow transactional progress and non-existent communication might just become a thing of the past, as might they, if some big alternative players enter the conveyancing market. We relish the prospect of the archaic home moving process being dragged into the 21st century.
Indeed we have done our bit in terms of such progression by streamlining home selling as far as the estate agency element is concerned. Lower fees, more accessibility and greater advertising exposure seem to be quite liked by the UK house selling public.
The OFT support an estate agency industry that is also free of red tape, legal constraint and the old fashioned legacy of ‘this is the way it’s always been done’.
The shackles of ring fenced institutional restriction are being broken. Roll on truly free markets where customer service and value win over and above protectionism.
Modern, well priced conveyancing is on its way.