Bar Standards Board gains approval to license Alternative Business Structures

Hayley Kirton
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At The Old Bailey Today
Could this be a sign of more ABSs on the legal scene? (Source: Getty)

Legal eagles, here's an acronym game to entertain you on your commute home: LSB BSB ABS OMG!

For those who require a more detailed explanation, the Legal Services Board (LSB) has today approved the Bar Standards Board's (BSB) application to become a licensing authority for alternative business structures (ABS).

An ABS, which were introduced under the Legal Services Act 2007, allows non-lawyers to own and invest in law firms. The first ABS licence was issued in 2011 by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

"We welcome the LSB’s announcement that our application to become a licensing authority for ABS has been approved," said Oliver Hanmer, director of supervision of the BSB. "It is testament to our desire to encourage innovation and competition and to improve access to justice within the legal services market."

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However, before the BSB can start handing out ABS licences, the lord chancellor has to approve the designation and further legislation must be put into place. The BSB hopes to formally begin its ABS application process by October this year but will issue further information about the timeframe in due course.

Last year was something of a mixed bag for the world of ABSs. While the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales granted its 100th such licence to Essex-based firm Tiffin Green, Parabis Group found itself plonked into a pre-pack administration.

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