The Lord Chancellor yesterday approved the application by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to become a regulator of probate services and licensing authority for alternative business structures.
Chartered legal executives are set to have full parity with solicitors after the Legal Services Board gave them the right to practise litigation and advocacy independently.
Competition in the law is to increase further after the Legal Services Board backed accountants to handle reserved probate work and set up alternative business structures, as well as chartered legal executives to set up their own conveyancing and probate practices.
The Legal Services Board has ditched its investigation into whether giving ‘general legal advice’ should become a reserved legal activity – but hinted it may look to remove probate from the existing list.
The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has today begun a debate over whether its remit should be widened to capture complaints against the 130,000 unregulated providers who deliver legal services. It has also raised the prospect of becoming the complaints body for a wide range of professionals.
Yesterday’s announcement that Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling had rejected the Legal Services Board’s (LSB) recommendation that will-writing become a reserved legal activity was not a total shock. I reported in February that the LSB was nervous given Mr Grayling’s anti-regulation agenda and it was encouraging supporters to lobby the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). If nothing else, those (mainly abroad) who fear that the LSB is too close to the government can rest easy – this is the second significant slap in the face for the LSB after the MoJ in 2011 disregarded its conclusion that the case to ban referral fees was not made out.
The status quo over reserved and unreserved legal activities is unsustainable and the answer may be for all legal advice to be regulated, the chief executive of the Legal Services Board has suggested.
The prospect of chartered legal executives setting up their own law firms moved closer to reality yesterday after their regulator submitted an application for the full range of independent practice rights. It has won immediate support from a Conservative MP.
The rule which prevents solicitors and alternative business structures from hiving off non-reserved legal work into unregulated businesses risks making legal services more expensive, distorting competition and preventing innovation, the Legal Services Board has warned.
Accountants could start offering reserved probate services to the public as soon as next autumn, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said yesterday as it submitted its application to become a regulator of probate services and alternative business structures.