New legistlation allows supermarkets and banks to offer consumer legal advice, having been restricted by legislation and regulation previously. The Government says the new Legal Services Act will increase economic growth in the sector and further promote Britainas a first-class legal services market, believing it will also offer wider choice and better value to the public. Under the new trading bodies, known as Alternative Business Structures (ABS), lawyers will be able to work in mixed-practices offering financial, legal and other advice, or be based at different kinds of businesses, the first of which will be covering services such as property law and probate.
The Bar Standards Board says that these changes could also see barristers, who have traditionally been self-employed, take up single roles in businesses or eventually form partnerships themselves.
However, the Act, having been dubbed by critics as “Tesco Law”, it is feared will undermine the quality and independence of advice.Despite the name, Tesco has said it has "no current plans to offer legal services", whereas the Co-Operative has been one of the first to show interest in offering such legal services.