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Facing up to legal problems: Towards a preventative approach to addressing disputes and their impact on individuals and society

This report details the findings of Scottish research intended to learn about consumer behaviour when dealing with legal issues. Researchers conducted 12 mini focus groups and 30 in-depth interviews with consumers. The research found that not all consumer recognize that they have a legal problem in the first place. And even if they do, they may not seek advice or take other steps to resolve the problem.

The report states: “Few people identified their problem as a ‘legal’ one; problems were more likely to be seen as bad luck/part of life, social problems, moral problems or problems with bureaucracy. Information about legal matters must 
be presented in such a way as to match people’s conceptions of 
their problems.” In only a few cases could the issue be said to be fully resolved. “The issue of what ‘resolved’ meant was often complex. Some people said the issue was now closed or that they were no longer pursuing it, but this did not mean it was ‘resolved’. Some said it was not resolved because it ended unsatisfactorily. Others removed themselves from the problem, despite incurring a cost to themselves.”

The report recommends a more preventative approach to help people recognize and deal with legal problems early on. The recommendations include:

  • adopt a “person-centred approach” by working closely with non-legal service providers to catch people before they fall through the cracks
  • support non-legal organizations to include information on how to deal with legal problems in their resources
  • create legal resources which could be used at various life stages to build legal capability
  • improve links to the financial capability sector
  • Author: Consumer Focus Scotland
    Title of Work: Facing up to legal problems: Towards a preventative approach to addressing disputes and their impact on individuals and society
    Date: 2012
    Organization: Consumer Focus Scotland
    URL: Click here http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130103082807/http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/scotland/files/2012/12/Facing-up-to-legal-problems-Full-report.pdf
    Topic: Community workers; Legal capability/legal literacy; PLE audiences & PLE development and delivery
    Location of Authoring Organization by Country: Scotland
    Location of Authoring Organization by Province/ State (unless national entity):
    Availability: Full report online
    Language: English