ABS application process to be streamlined, says SRA

Published: 29/10/2012

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is poised to "streamline" and quicken its alternative business structure application process.

Currently 31 organisations have been granted an ABS licence from the SRA since it was given licensing powers in January 2012, a figure which has been widely criticised. Speaking at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum, Professor Stephen Mayson, Director of the Legal Service Services Institute, urged the ABS process operate in “market time, not profession time”.

Professor Mayson also criticised how, in all but two cases, ABS licences have been authorised to allow the organisations to conduct all the reserved legal activity. He questioned the appropriateness of this, citing the example of small firms that only work in one area of law.

Chief Executive of the SRA, Antony Townsend, conceded the first ten months have been ‘a big learning process for us and the applicants’ but did not apologise for the length of time ABS licensing had taken. Instead he cited the uniqueness of each application and the fact that ‘no two structures look the same’.

He did however confirm the SRA ‘can now offer a more streamlined and tailored authorisation process.’ “‘We have the experience to target the real risks [and] make it quicker,” he added.

There are currently 100 ABS applications going through the system.

Content correct at time of publication

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