The Role of the Regulator in Market Transparency and Comparison Services
What is the role of the regulator in marketplace transparency, particularly the accessibility of information on pricing and quality of services, including comparison services? Like them or loathe them, price comparison and customer review websites are a feature of modern life – and increasingly a feature of legal services markets. In theory, these websites make it easier for consumers to shop around for services that meet their needs and make firms compete harder to market and deliver their services. But there are also concerns about these tools, such as fake and malicious reviews, and whether consumers are really able to judge the quality of service they receive. And while many law firms successfully use them to manage their online reputations, a few have sued clients who left negative reviews for defamation.
How do regulators deal with these market tools? Internationally, jurisdictions have responded in different ways on a spectrum from embracing them to trying to ban them. In some jurisdictions, national competition authorities and regulators are taking a greater interest in making sure that legal services markets are working well for consumers. This includes a focus on law firms making their prices more transparent, improving information about the quality of services, and making it easier for consumers to compare different services. Yet in other jurisdictions, regulators have no role in how the market operates.
Our session will address these questions and others that arise in our session:
- What role, if any, should regulators have in making markets work better for consumers?
- How can we improve the transparency of the price and quality of legal services for consumers?
- Should price comparison and customer review websites are viewed as a positive development, a necessary evil, or unsuitable for legal services?
- What, if anything, should regulators do to build trust among the public and professionals in price comparison and customer review websites?