The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has been given the green light by Parliament to regulate alternative business structures which provide probate services, with dozens of firms already showing an interest in taking advantage.
An order designating the institute as an ABS licensing authority was approved by Parliament this week, and will become law next month.
Peter James, head of regulation at the ICAEW, said that as a result, he expected the ICAEW to be able to accept ABS applications from the beginning of September.
An order designating the ICAEW as an approved regulator for reserved probate services was passed by Parliament earlier this month, allowing accountants to carry out work traditionally done by solicitors. Introducing ABSs means that accountancy firms can still handle probate work where not all of the principals and owners are individually authorised to do it.
Mr James said he felt a mixture of “delight and relief” at the passing of the orders. He said 40 firms had already made enquiries about the ABS licensing process.
He added that the ICAEW had decided to put back applications to carry out probate work from sole practitioners and firms where all the partners were seeking authorisation, so they could be dealt with at the same time as ABS applications.
In contrast, the delay in giving the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) the power to grant the rights to conduct reserved probate and conveyancing work continues. “We had initially said the timescales for the [orders] meant they would be voted on before the summer recess,” a CILEx spokeswoman said.
“Unfortunately though they weren’t able to find the parliamentary time, so they are being scheduled for September when Parliament reconvenes. This will be followed by the consumer protection arrangements, namely to let ILEX Professional Standards set up a compensation fund, and give it powers to intervene in firms.”