Alternative Business Structure licensing delays branded a “shambles” by industry expert
Professor Stephen Mayson, Director of the Legal Services Institute, has labelled the delay in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) meeting its target date as a “shambles”.
Speaking at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum event, the keynote speaker at the Goldsmith Williams Alternative Business Structure conference, The Legal Services Act: Taking the Law into your Own Hands, told delegates the hold-up was a “significant blow to credibility in the eyes of new market entrants and existing sceptics.”¹
The delays have occurred for two primary reasons:
- The SRA’s need to obtain legislative change to allow it to examine the spent convictions of potential ABS owners, and
- Acquiring agreement from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to ensure that the cost of appeals against SRA licensing decisions will not be borne by the profession¹.
Antony Townsend, Chief Executive of the SRA, apologised for the delays:
“I recognise for those planning to become ABSs that it is hugely frustrating and it will muck up your plans. I can only apologise and assure you we’re working flat out with the MoJ to bring in licences for ABSs as soon as we can.”
Senior Partner at Goldsmith Williams, Eddie Goldsmith, appreciates these delays are frustrating but warns brokers not to be discouraged or hindered by them.
“The delay is likely to be brief, weeks stretching into months, not years, and interested ABS applicants should not use this as an excuse to sit back and wait.
“There is already definite interest in Alternative Business Structures in the marketplace; the SRA has had at least 50 in depth discussions from potential entrants. It is therefore vital for others who have an interest to utilise this time effectively and not rest on their laurels!”
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¹Law Gazette (Sep 2011)
Content correct at time of publication