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Online Self-Help Tools

The Panel’s starting point is that DIY law is a growing reality, and we wanted to find out more about the experiences of people who handle legal problems alone. Working in partnership with the Legal Services Board, we commissioned BDRC Continental to carry out research into the experiences of consumers who petitioned for a divorce. Some of the consumers in the study used an online provider, while others sought face to face advice.

We found no fundamental issues with the service delivery provided by either online or face to face providers. Consumers appear to make rational choices about choosing the online route. For example, people consciously make the online choice thinking it’s the best option for them and most online divorces are amicable, follow a period of separation and are less likely to involve mediation. Users felt the online process was easier than they had anticipated. Also, online users reported lower effort scores than users of face to face providers. And over 50% of online users would recommend the process to a friend or family member compared with 38% using face to face services. Online divorces, perhaps because they are likely to be more straightforward, were cheaper and more likely to be quoted on a fixed fee basis.

The report findings will help the Panel to define a consumer agenda and inform the debate on the benefits and risks of technology in legal services.

You can find the report and a short policy briefing on the findings below

Key documents

Date Title Description
19 March 2015 Online divorce… a practical choice Joint press release with the LSB announcing the findings of the research
19 March 2015 Comparing methods of service delivery: a case study on divorce (pdf, 3.3mb) Research report by BDRC comparing the consumer experience of online and face to face delivery, using divorce as a case study
19 March 2015 Policy briefing (pdf, 327kb) Short policy briefing on the findings of the research
19 March 2015 Research specification (pdf, 264kb) Research specification for work commissioned jointly by the LSB and the Consumer Panel on the consumer experience of online divorce services