ABS six months on: A classic tale of the tortoise and the hare?

Published: 02/07/2012

Nearly six months on since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) marked its arrival as an alternative business structure licensing power, eight ABS licences have been granted.

It requires no mathematical genius to work out the SRA is failing to average even two licences a month. This small number, when compared to the rumoured application figures, has prompted questions and, in turn, complaints about its process.

Upon first unveiling of the ABS licensing process, applications seemingly involved a two-stage process. Step one required the completion of an “expression of interest”. Once this had been received and reviewed, the SRA’s dedicated ABS team will devise a bespoke application pack for completion.

It has however been unravelled that this two-step plan is in fact more of a three-stage process with approximately 130 stuck in between having submitted their application and the SRA giving it its stamp of approval.

It has been suggested this is a deliberate delay tactic. However, the SRA Executive Director Samantha Barrass has denied this.

The SRA was initially criticised for the delay to ABS licensing which was originally scheduled for 6th October 2011. Chief Executive, Antony Townsend, however made the valid point back in January citing the importance of having thorough systems in place.

So it would seem the early stages of ABS licensing come with the same two options in the children’s tale of patience. We can recklessly charge out the blocks, all guns blazing or we can take our time, methodically planning a route and making our way carefully along.

When it comes to ensuring quality service, surely slow and steady wins every time?

Content correct at time of publication

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