Skip to the page Primary Navigation Skip to the page content Skip to page Footer
The OFT closed on 31 March 2014 and this website is no longer being updated. The OFT's work and responsibilities have passed to a number of different bodies. Read more.

Professional services

The Professions team

Professional Services can generally be defined as occupations requiring special training in the arts or sciences and include the services of lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, doctors and dentists.

The objective of the Professions team is to make the markets for professional services work well for consumers. Our primary concerns are with removing unnecessary restrictions on the freedom of professionals, helping consumers judge the services they receive, and remedying features of the market which cause adverse effects on competition or consumers resulting in consumer detriment and/or economic inefficiency.

Our work includes investigations under the Competition Act 1998, market studies, market investigation references to the Competition Commission, responding to Super-complaints and advocacy. 

We also have a formal advisory role under statute in relation to certain professional services (see the Legal Services Act 2007) and the Law Reform (Scotland) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1990).

Back to top

Press notices

Back to top

Publications and consultations

See the list of our most recent or important consultations and publications.

For a complete list of al publications relating to the professions, see the Professional bodies publications section.

Back to top

Statutory role


Guidance note

The Guidance Note (pdf 150kb) provides a brief description of the OFT's statutory role under the Legal Services Act 2007 and the way it works with the Legal Services Board in carrying out those duties.


Rule change applications


Approved Regulator applications


Licensing Authority applications

 

Back to top

Common issues we deal with

Since 2000, the OFT has had a UK-wide competition programme dedicated to the professions. The aim of the programme is to ensure that competition is not unnecessarily restricted as a result of:

  • The behaviour of professional service providers or their regulatory bodies. This would include:

    restrictions on entry to a profession, such as qualifications and training requirements
    restrictions on Members' conduct, for example pricing, restrictions on advertising
    restrictions on methods of supply, limiting how far members of one profession should be allowed to compete in offering services usually supplied by members of another (or another part of the same profession).

    Our primary focus is to ensure that the rules of professional bodies are necessary, proportionate and that they benefit consumers. Any restrictions should be the minimum necessary to protect the consumer.

  • Restrictions for which government is responsible (that might arise from laws, regulations or administrative practices).

  • Market structures or features which which cause adverse effects on competition or consumers resulting in consumer detriment and/or economic inefficiency.

  • Lack of or incomplete consumer knowledge and ability to make informed choices.  

Back to top

Advocacy role

We regularly discuss our concerns with professional bodies, Government departments and devolved administrations to achieve a mutually agreeable solution. When this works well this can be our most cost effective tool.

We actively respond to consultations relating to professional services issued by public bodies, professional organisations and other relevant bodies. If you would like us to respond to a consultation then please contact a member of the Professions team (see contact details below).

Back to top

What we can do

Back to top

What we can't do

  • act on behalf of individuals
  • help or intervene in individual disputes
  • advise you if a professional body is being investigated
  • tell you if a professional is good or bad
  • tell you which professional you should use
  • help you to get your money back
  • comment on whether a specific contract or situation is unfair
  • help with academic research
  • comment on studies we are doing beyond what we have said in our public statements, or take enforcement action without a breach of specific legislation
  • consider complaints which are the remit of the professional bodies or their complaint bodies.

For more information, please see also see the OFT's frequently asked questions.  

Back to top

Frequently asked questions

  • I am a professional and I do not agree with a provision contained within my professional organisation's code of conduct which I believe is anti- competitive. Can you help me?

    Yes. We would welcome hearing from you and we will consider your complaint.

    For more information, please see also see the OFT's frequently asked questions.

  • I am trying to enter a profession and I believe that the action/rules of the Professional Body are unnecessarily restrictive. Can you help me?

    Yes. Any rule of a professional body which restricts entry to a profession should be necessary, proportionate and benefit consumers. Any restrictions should be the minimum necessary to protect the consumer. We would welcome hearing from you and we will consider your complaint.

  • I am a client or potential client of a professional and I believe that the market for the services I am interested in is not working well for consumers. Can you help me?

    Yes. Our aim is to make the markets for professional services work well for consumers.
    We would welcome hearing from you and we will consider your complaint.

  • A professional whose services I have retained has acted negligently. Can you help me?

    No. Negligent behaviour by professionals is a matter that should generally be resolved by reference to the relevant professional body or by seeking redress through the courts.

  • I am a professional/representative of a professional organisation. Can you provide me with informal advice as to whether my actions/the actions of my organisation are contrary to the Competition Act 1998?

    No. The OFT no longer provides informal advice to professionals or professional organisations as to whether their actions are in contravention of the Competition Act 1998. Professionals or professional organisations who have concerns about this should seek independent legal advice.

Back to top

How to make a complaint

A significant proportion of cases begin with a complaint and all complaints received are considered. However, as the OFT has limited resources, not every complaint can be investigated. Which cases justify further investigation are decided in accordance with our Prioritisation Principles (pdf 121kb). 

To make a complaint, contact the OFT - or a member of the Professions team directly (see contact details below) - either by email or in writing. You can also contact the OFT's Enquiries and Reporting Centre on 08457 22 44 99. Please be aware that the OFT cannot provide advice or assistance to individual consumers, professionals or traders. Please see the OFT frequently asked questions page.

If you are a consumer, please first check whether your complaint can be dealt with by Consumer Direct, the telephone and online service offering information and advice on consumer issues.

For more information please contact:

Team Leader: Tarnya Wilkins - 020 7211 8154/tarnya.wilkins@oft.gsi.gov.uk
Project Director: Tony Donaldson 020 7211 8784/tony.donaldson@oft.gsi.gov.uk
Senior Responsible Officer:Mary Starks 020 7211 8555/mary.starks@oft.gsi.gov.uk




Back to: Financial and Professional Services

Recently viewed pages

This feature requires Javascript and Cookies to be enabled on your browser

Email alerts

Register for email alerts or amend your existing account details here.