ABS application process revealed

Published: 06/01/2012

On the 3rd January, the majority of us returned to work after a restful festive period. But, while many of us gently ease our way back into the old routine, those at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) don’t have such a luxury as applications for Alternative Business Structures have started flooding in.

On Tuesday, the SRA released new information about the ABS application process and confirmed that it is in “serious talks” with approximately 15 interested parties. Amongst them are The Co-operative and Irwin Mitchell.

Applications can be started via the SRA website with the completion of an “expression of interest”. To date, more than ten first-stage applications have been made online.

On receiving an application, the SRA’s dedicated ABS team will review the information before creating a personalised application pack for the applicants to complete. Due to the bespoke nature of this approach, the fee will vary depending on the application’s complexity. However, it will comprise of a £2000 flat fee plus an additional £150 per person planning on providing legal services. As part of the process, each person will be individually assessed to ensure they are appropriate ambassadors for the legal profession.

Ann Morgan is the SRA’s ABS Team Leader:

“One size doesn’t fit all, so we’ll have to assess each application on its merits. While the preparation work has been very comprehensive, we will need to remain flexible in our approach to deal with these new firms.

“What we do know is that we have to be rigorous and robust – as robust as we are with traditional law firms. For example, we’ll be asking for the employment history of everyone going back five years – we need to have detailed information relating to those who want to be regulated by us.”¹

The SRA is predicting the typical approval process will take up to six months from receiving a completed application. However, where possible, it will make a quicker decision.

The first SRA-approved Alternative Business Structures licences are expected to be handed out towards the end of February.

¹Legal Week (Jan 2011)

Content correct at time of publication

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