ABS licence allows Devon accountants to add legal service

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11 September 2013

Gard: not seeking market share from solicitors

A firm of accountants in Devon has become only the third to launch a legal arm after winning an alternative business structure (ABS) licence.

Davisons Legal Services began trading last week, with former City lawyer Philip Vickery as its head of legal practice.

It will focus on commercial work and advice for high net-worth individuals, with the parent accountancy firm, Davisons, having a significant agricultural practice.

Davisons managing director Matthew Gard said the firm decided to create an ABS due to “demand within our growing client base”. It already has a financial services arm as well and so “the legal side seemed to be the missing part of the jigsaw”.

Mr Vickery has been with Davisons for 14 months, but the limitations imposed by the reserved legal activities is “like having one arm tied behind your back”, Mr Gard said. “We’ve been asked in the past to do certain things that we simply weren’t able to do.”

Davisons lists professional practices, including solicitors, as one of its target sectors and Mr Gard stressed that the firm was not looking to go into competition with its legal clients.

“We are looking to complement the services we already offer to clients, not grab market share,” he said.

The firm is now in the process of recruiting a probate specialist to assist Mr Vickery with private client work.

Accountants Price Bailey and Brookson were the first to receive ABS licences to supplement the services they offer clients, while last month the first ABS to offer legal and accountancy advice side by side – Direct Law & Finance – was launched.

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