SRA prepares for rush of ABS applications from criminal law firms


Philip: increasing decision-making capacity

Philip: increasing decision-making capacity

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has put in place plans to fast-track alternative business structure (ABS) and other new entity applications from criminal law firms in the event that the legal action against the government’s plans to reform legal aid fails.

Today is the second and final day of the Court of Appeal’s hearing of the appeal by the Law Society, Criminal Law Solicitors Association and London Solicitors Litigation Association against the High Court’s rejection of their judicial review.

The government’s reforms, if they survive the appeal, will lead to a drastic reduction in the number of duty solicitor contracts from 1,600 to 527, causing major consolidation and firms simply going out of business.

In its original Transforming Legal Aid consultation, the government said for existing providers to adapt to the bigger caseloads on offer, they would “need to consider new forms of business structures, such as forming ABSs or joint ventures with other organisations”.

In his report to today’s meeting of the SRA board, chief executive Paul Philip said: “We have plans in place to handle the anticipated increase in work if the appeal is lost and the tender exercise reopens.

“Our plans focus on increasing decision-making capacity through overtime and bringing in additional staff from other parts of the business. We will also look to run targeted events, including a webinar and drop-in sessions to provide advice to criminal legal aid firms on the authorisation process.”

The concern has long been whether the SRA could turn around applications quickly enough to meet the bidding timetable.

It has been steadily reducing the time it takes to approve ABS applications. The most recent figures showed that it takes on average just over six months from the submission of an application for a firm to be granted an ABS licence, but of the applications submitted since January 2014 which have been granted a licence, the average time taken is under three and a half months.

The SRA has also suggested in the past that it does not anticipate these applications to have the factors that can draw out the process, such as complex ownership or business structures, foreign ownership, complex financing structures, and financing through private equity vehicles.

Tags:




Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog


Can data analytics unlock the potential for diversity in the law?

Data, equity and inclusion analytics can play a pivotal role in increasing diversity and inclusion efforts by enabling organisations to effectively identify gaps, prioritise action and measure progress.


Jeff Zindani

The growth game – better to buy than build?

A law firm without a growth strategy is like any business that fails to plan for the future. It may continue to thrive in the short term but in the long term it is unlikely to succeed.


Preparing your staff for returning to the office

A recent story hit the headlines that CEOs were struggling to get their employees back into the office following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.


Loading animation