23,000 and 30,000 people use online provider for divorce.

The research, which focused on unregulated providers for wills, divorce and intellectual property law, found that on average unregulated providers represent 5% of the paid advice given to address a legal problem.

The proportion was highest in family law, where unregulated providers represent between 10%-13% of the paid advice given.

The research found that unregulated providers offer lower prices on average than their regulated competitors, particularly for wills and divorce.

According to the report, solicitors on average charge £722 for an uncontested divorce compared to £36 to £172 from online divorce providers.

Meanwhile it noted that consumers value the fact that wills and estate administration providers typically conduct home visits.

The report also found that 81% of consumers who had used an unregulated provider were satisfied with the customer service, almost the same level as with regulated providers, where 84% of consumers said they were satisfied.

Pitt said: ‘It is however, very important that consumers make informed decisions to use unregulated providers. They will receive less protection than if using a regulated provider and it is of concern if they are accepting this without realising the lack of consumer protection.’

Legal professional bodies said that the LSB report understated the risks posed by unregulated providers.

Chantal-Aimee Dorries QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: ‘It is a matter of concern that between 23,000 and 30,000 people, according to the LSB report, are using unregulated online providers when going through a divorce.

Using unqualified and insufficiently insured providers of advice in family matters, which will often involve children, instead of using the services of properly regulated professional lawyers, carries considerable risk for all concerned. Legal regulators must do more to warn consumers about the risks of using the wrong type of legal service provider – unregulated, not properly qualified or insured.’

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