Online survey of individuals’ handling of legal issues in England and Wales 2019

Why is this research important?
This report presents the findings of the 2019 survey of the Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales. It is the largest legal needs survey ever run in England and Wales based upon data from 28,663 people, this is comparable to the population of England and Wales. The survey covers 34 different legal issues, how legal consumers handle these issues along with their outcomes. It is the first study in this jurisdiction to use OECD guidance on how to develop legal needs surveys and innovates by including measures of legal capability to profile the population by their experience and perceptions of the legal system.

All relevant material can be found below:

What new information did this research provide?
This research shows that:

  • Six in ten adults (64%) based in England and Wales experienced a legal issue in the last four years; Including 53% who experienced a contentious issue. Only 16% personally described their contentious issue as being legal in nature.
  • Half (53%) who had a contentious legal issue say they experienced stress as a part of, or result of, it and a third (33%) lost money.
  • 55% with a legal issue got professional help. Respondents getting professional help were more likely to get better outcomes than those who didn’t. In fact, two thirds (66%) of those who got professional help feel the outcome is fair compared to 54% who either got non-professional help or no help. Further, 30% of main advisers used are solicitors, though 32% of main advisers are from the not for profit sector including doctors (9%).
  • An estimated three in ten respondents (31%) had an unmet legal need for a contentious legal issue, where either they didn’t receive any or wanted more help to resolve their issue.
  • Legal confidence – that they could get a fair and positive outcome in different legal scenarios – links to outcomes of legal issues, consumers with low legal confidence find it harder to find professional help and are more likely to get worse outcomes. Consumers with low legal confidence are 36% of adults, with: 43% saying they don’t understand their legal rights and responsibilities; 54% not getting professional help; and, 53% describing the outcome they got as unfair.
  • A fifth (21%) of people didn’t try to get help (for contentious or non/contentious issues) from a professional adviser because they assumed it would be too expensive.
  • 57% of those who did get professional help didn’t have to pay.
  • The vast majority of adults in England and Wales agree that Legal Aid is a good thing, just under half (45%) strongly agree that this is the case.
  • 85% of people who have a household income of £32,000 or less (and responding about a legal issue eligible for Legal Aid) do not think they are eligible for legal aid.
  • 85% who got help were satisfied with the service they received from their professional adviser: Nearly nine in ten (86%) who paid for some or all of the help they received thought their adviser provided value for money. Further, consumers who were told about prices during initial communication were more likely to be satisfied (92%) than those who weren’t (82%).

How are we going to use this research?

The ILNS provides relevant consumer-focus evidence that we will use during the next few years as source for internal and external projects. In fact, we are already using this survey as part of our state of the nation exercise to understand how the legal services market is changing since the introduction of the Legal Services Act – a key part of measuring whether the regulatory objective of improved access to justice is being delivered or not. We will also undertake our own analysis running a consumer segmentation in order to find behavioural and attitudinal patterns fundamental to better understand and improve the experience of legal consumers. Further, the findings on legal capability will be used to run internal research on public legal education, the LSB will host a PLE event on February 24th 2020.