The UK's competition watchdog will look into companies that provide "quickie" divorces and will writing services.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would investigate the assertions made by the growingly well-liked online divorce services since lockdown.
Additionally, some vulnerable clients who had been coerced into signing up for will-writing services had gotten in touch with it.
In particular, where the adviser is not a solicitor, the CMA stated that there are now numerous alternatives to law firms.
These substitutes for traditional law firms, according to the report, can be more practical and less expensive, but "where they are unregulated, it becomes all the more important that typical consumer protection laws are complied with and, if necessary, enforced," it said. .
Following Covid lockdowns, online divorces—which are marketed as a quicker alternative to the conventional process—have seen growth.
Some individuals did, however, complain to the CMA about false claims made regarding the ease of the procedure and prices, leaving them unsure of what they could receive assistance with or what they were paying for.
Additionally, they criticized the "inadequate quality of service.". This included businesses submitting paperwork to the court late and using the wrong forms or entering incorrect information.
Anyone may legally draft a will in the UK because the industry is unregulated.
According to the CMA, consumers have occasionally been drawn in by an "extremely low" initial fee for advice without being informed of the potential for significant cost increases.
Reports of vulnerable customers being subjected to coercion and pressure selling are part of some complaints. .
Plans for pre-paid probate will also be looked into. Customers can pay predetermined upfront fees here for probate, the legal procedure for handling a person's estate after death.
These plans are designed so that when a person passes away, their families won't be responsible for any additional costs associated with settling their financial affairs. .
In addition to pressure selling, the CMA is worried about people being sold unnecessary plans or a lack of transparency regarding the costs covered by the plans. In some instances, this can cause delays in the probate procedure, leaving bereaved relatives unable to pay their debts or sell their property.
Online divorce services, will writing, and pre-paid probate plans, according to CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell, are crucial to people, "often at the most trying times in their lives.".
"For this reason, it's crucial that we conduct an investigation so that people can confidently choose the best legal service for them, whether it's for a divorce, a probate, or the writing of a will. Companies must get the fundamentals right, which includes abiding by the general consumer law that governs all traders. Customers must receive a just price. " .
Consumers who have utilized any of the services are encouraged to get in touch with the watchdog by September 4 with specifics of their experiences.
If the CMA determines that businesses have violated consumer law, it may take a number of actions, such as obtaining a court order, as a response.
However, at first, it may only offer guidance on following the law or seek a promise from the business that it will alter its methods.
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