Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) plans to make it easier for multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs) to be licensed as alternative business structures will give the large accountancy firms a competitive advantage, the Law Society has claimed.
Last week the board of the SRA responded to criticisms of the lack of MDPs with changes that mean it will not have to regulate all unreserved legal activities carried out by an organisation, but in some cases there will need to be regulation by other professional service regulators.
A Law Society spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the SRA plans to press ahead with its plans to make it easier for accountancy firms to enter the legal market by exempting some of the legal work they do from regulation.
“The SRA’s proposals to create exceptions to regulation for accountancy firms remain complex and we question whether they are workable. Removing legal work from the SRA regulation where it is undertaken by an accountant within an ICAEW-regulated firm will create confusion for clients.”
Chancery Lane argued that it was wrong that legal work done in an organisation regulated by the SRA should be subject to different regulators and thus different standards depending on the individual doing the work.
“Where a client is provided with legal work by an SRA-regulated firm, then they have a right to expect that work will be regulated to the same high standard regardless of the qualification of the individual providing it. The exemption creates unfairness in the market as it is aimed at large accountancy firms, providing them with a competitive advantage over other types of firms unable to take advantage of such an exemption.”