CMA Publishes Draft consumer protection law compliance guidance

In July 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the unregulated legal services of will writing, online divorce, and pre-paid probate to address concerns involving potential risk to customers and possible breaches of consumer protection law. The Society of Will Writers (SWW) responded to the investigation with support from members and a separate response from the SWW Professional Standards Board was also sent.

The CMA has used the evidence it has gathered from respondents, including businesses, consumers, and stakeholders such as the SWW, and has identified some areas of concern that they wish to address. They have decided that producing some guidance would be beneficial and have today opened a consultation on draft consumer protection law guidance for unregulated businesses providing these services in the UK.

The CMA has clarified that the focus of this work is consumer law compliance, and so are not making any general recommendations regarding regulation in the sector. Instead, once the guidance has been finalised, they have said they intend to conduct a compliance review to assess compliance levels across the sector. If concerns remain, they will consider what enforcement action may be necessary to raise compliance levels further and protect consumers.

The SWW will thoroughly read through the draft guidance and provide its comments as a formal response to the CMA. We strongly encourage members to participate either by sending their comments to the CMA directly or, as we did for the previous response, by sending these comments to us, and we will include them as part of our response.

The CMA has proposed a series of questions to help you formulate your response, which can be found in the consultation document here.

To provide your comments to the SWW, please send them to [email protected] and mark the subject line as CMA Comments – [your name/business name]. This is so that we can appropriately credit these to you.

To provide your comments to the CMA, submissions should be sent to [email protected].

This draft guidance is available here and is open for consultation until 5pm on 13 June 2024.

More information regarding the consultation and the draft compliance guidance document can be found here.

In light of the investigation and upon first reading of the CMA’s draft guidance, the SWW would like to remind members that the sale of pre-paid probate plans remains forbidden as per clause 5.8 of the SWW Code of Practice, and we do not intend to change this position as yet.

The Society of Will Writers

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  • Steve Drury

    1st May 2024 at 11:11 am

    Under section 4.4 it states that we should:

    Clearly and prominently explain that your business is not regulated.

    Can we not state that we are under the self regulatory umbrella of The Society of Will Writers? And adhere to their code of practise?

    I could see that stating we are not regulated would be a bit of a ‘put off’ to clients


    • Anthony Belcher

      1st May 2024 at 11:17 am

      Hi Steve,

      I picked up on this point as well and certainly wouldn’t want members to have to make certain claims that might deter clients. However, it’s important to remember that the SWW is not a regulator, and therefore, members shouldn’t say that they are regulated by us – instead, under current guidelines we’d advise a statement to confirm they’re a member and abide by our code is sufficient.

      We’ll be sure to highlight this point as part of our response to the consultation.



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About The Society of Will Writers

The Society of Will Writers is a non-profit making self-regulatory organisation whose primary objectives are the advancement, education and ethical standards within the will writing profession.

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