A survey of over 2000 adults aged 16+ had revealed that nearly 19% of people don’t understand British law and do not feel empowered to seek justice.
Less than half (41%) of respondents said that if they needed help, support or wanted to make a complaint, they’d be comfortable approaching a law firm. 59% said it’s too expensive to access legal support, while 52% said there are too many barriers to getting legal support.
The research was conducted by law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp and asked respondents to consider situations involving medical negligence, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse, and issues with the police.
- 31% said they’d be comfortable approaching the police for the same.
- 62% said they’d know what to do if a doctor was inappropriate with them.
- 43% said they’d know what to do if a doctor misdiagnosed them.
- 50% said their workplace takes bullying, discrimination, or harassment complaints seriously.
- 59% said it’s too expensive to access legal support, while 52% said there are too many barriers to getting legal support.
The survey also brought to light an imbalance between how men and women respond. Men are more likely than women to say they’d know what to do if something traumatic happened to them. In contrast, more women than men say they’d hesitate to talk to the police or a lawyer if something happened to them.
For 19% of women (and 14% of men), this is in case they weren’t believed. For 15% of women (and 11% of men), this is in case they get blamed for what happened.
More women (55%) than men (48%) believe there are too many barriers to getting legal support. The reasons cited for not accessing legal support include
- Being charged for their time (19%)
- Concerns about no claim they could pursue (11%)
- Concerns about it being too late to report (10%)
- Not understanding their legal rights. (9%)
The analysis shows that age plays a big factor in seeking legal support. 16-24 year olds are more likely to be put off going to the police or a lawyer about sexual abuse, with 23% hesitating in case they’re not believed compared to 15% of those aged 35+.
Worryingly compared to other age groups, a larger proportion of those aged 25-34 (15%) said they wouldn’t report sexual abuse in case it negatively affects their relationships or career.
The findings, say Bolt Burdon Kemp, demonstrate the work needed to continue to educate people across all ages about the availability of legal services, and helps to inform firms about how they can best adopt fee structures that make legal advice more accessible.