The presence of legal professional privilege creates a “serious distortion to the competitive environment” of the legal services market, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has argued. The ICAEW said some law firms marketed themselves on the basis that their advice was confiential.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has accused banks, insurance companies and others of discriminating against accountants providing probate services, in favour of solicitors. It said various organisations “appeared not to have caught up with the consequences of the Legal Services Act”.
Top 20 accountancy firm Kingston Smith is expanding its commercial law services, the firm’s new head of legal services has said. Meanwhile, City firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, which became an alternative business structure last year to bring in an accountant to provide non-legal services, is evolving into a firm of business advisers, its managing partner said.
Counterculture Partnership, a multi-disciplinary practice with one lawyer among 11 partners, has become an alternative business structure. Solicitor Keith Arrowsmith said clients liked the fact that it was an ABS and was under strict rules on confidentiality.
Rather than feeling threatened by accountants’ move into legal services, law firms should set up alternative business structures (ABS) and compete with them, the president of the Law Society has said. Jonathan Smithers said: “The success of ABS to date indicates that clients are generally not concerned about sourcing their legal services from non-lawyers.”
The number of alternative business structures licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has hit 100, it has emerged. A further 47 firms have been authorised to provide probate services.
Only 13% of small businesses believe lawyers “provide a cost-effective means to resolve legal issues”, the biggest survey of its kind has found. The survey also found that small businesses were more likely to use accountants in solving legal problems than solicitors.
Michael Caplan QC, one of the few solicitor QCs and a partner at Kingsley Napley for over 30 years, has been recruited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to head its new regulatory board.
Only a few large law firms are providing structured retirement advice for their partners, a report has found – unlike the big accountancy firms. The study, of 28 top 100 firms, found three with formal internal schemes.
A firm of accountants based in rural East Anglia has become an alternative business structure regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Churchgate Accountants said the move was in response to demand from clients, including farmers.