Alternative business structures (ABSs) will make solicitors’ firms “more competitive, more accessible and more efficient”, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly claimed today as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opened its doors to the first ABS applications.
The order designating the SRA as a licensing authority for ABSs came into force on 23 December after completing its parliamentary journey.
Mr Djanogly said: “The addition of the SRA [to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers] marks another major milestone for UK legal services and the future of ABSs.
“Our UK legal services are unrivalled around the world and these changes will allow them to reach new heights, as solicitors’ firms develop new markets, jo
in up with other businesses to offer different products and provide opportunities for growth.
“Customers will find legal services more accessible, providing a much more competitive and efficient service.”
Mr Djanogly said ABSs will also provide opportunities for international growth. He explained: “Legal firms will be able to get outside investment for the first time, with greater opportunities for international investment into the UK legal services sector. ABSs is one of a number of initiatives the government is undertaking to enhance the UK’s position as a centre of legal excellence.”
Speaking in the wake of its approval as a licensing authority, SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: “This is a milestone that we have been working towards for nearly two years. It means the public can have confidence that ABSs providing reserved legal activities will be regulated according to the same rigorous professional standards as traditional law firms.”
Depending on the complexity of the first applications received, the SRA expects to announce the first successful applicants next month. The Co-op is among those planning to put in an application today.