Listed insurance company set for law firm acquisition after gaining ABS licence

Print This Post

13 December 2012


Ward: “fairly close” to completing acquisition

Well-known legal expenses insurer Abbey Protection plc should complete its acquisition of a law firm early next year, it revealed yesterday after receiving an alternative business structure (ABS) licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The AIM-listed company – which provides legal and professional fees insurance products and services – has a three-pronged approach to widening the range of legal services it offers to SMEs.

It already employs more than 60 solicitors and barristers in its legal advice call centre, who also provide insured employment tribunal services. Becoming an ABS will allow it to scale up this resource to provide a wider range of commercial litigation services beyond those covered by insurance.

The plan is for Abbey Legal Services (ALS) – which provides the legal help and currently deals with 290,000 calls a year – essentially to become another of the company’s panel firms, to which legal expenses insurance policyholders might be directed. ALS will just be one option and other law firms will remain on the panel.

Further, ALS would seek to offer its wider service range through some of the affinity clients, the biggest of which is the Federation of Small Businesses.

The final arm of the ABS plan is an equity investment in an identified but unnamed law firm, to give ALS access to expertise in areas of practice which it does not initially want to resource in-house. Group managing director Chris Ward told Legal Futures that the acquisition was “fairly close” and that he hoped it would be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

As part of the process to secure the licence, the company’s trading subsidiary, Abbey Protection Group Ltd, will undergo a partial restructuring which will see its Abbey Tax Protection and Accountax divisions transferred to a new, wholly owned subsidiary.

Earlier this year Abbey expressed frustration at the speed with which its ABS licence was being processed. Mr Ward said: “One of the biggest issues has been having to work within the parameters of the 2007 [Legal Services] Act and its suitability for MDP applicants such as ourselves. It certainly doesn’t make the path to ‘a freer and more competitive market place for legal services with innovative and customer focused ideals’ easy to navigate.”

Abbey’s half-year results, announced in September, showed revenue up 5% to £19.2m, and pre-tax profits up 3% to £5.2m. Abbey Legal – comprising Abbey Legal Protection and ALS – delivered £1.2m in profits, while its Accident Line after-the-event insurance business contributed £200,000.

 

Tags: ,



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

New right to paid leave for bereaved parents: A welcome move

Kimberley Manning DAS

This year, like many in recent years, has seen some key changes within the employment law field, with the government, trade unions and lobbyists remaining endlessly engaged in seeking to impose their interpretation of fair balance between employers and their respective workforces. Although consensus on that equilibrium can never really be achieved, sometimes there are pieces of legislative movement which are difficult to argue with regardless of your perspective: This is one of those. Published on 13 October 2017, the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill would provide for the first time a legal right to parents who are employed and have suffered the death of a child, a minimum of two weeks’ leave in which to grieve.

November 20th, 2017