Legal market overhaul starts as Tesco law comes into force

 
Elizabeth Fournier
SUPERMARKETS, banks and other high street stores are now able to offer legal services to their customers, after a new law to liberalise the UK’s legal sector came into force yesterday.

The Legal Services Act, dubbed the Tesco law, introduces the idea of alternative business structures (ABS), which allow law firms to seek outside investment, and to be owned by non-lawyers.

“This is a landmark day for the UK legal industry,” said justice minister Jonathan Djanogly.

“Our legal services are already rated among the best in the world, used by millions of people around the globe as well as in the UK, and these changes will set them up to move to new heights. They will enable firms to set up multi-disciplinary practices and provide opportunities for growth.”

Leicester-based Premier Property Lawyers became the first ABS in the UK yesterday, after it was granted a licence by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

And Oxford’s Everyman Legal will be the first solicitor to try to access the UK stock markets, announcing yesterday plans to float on small companies index Sharemark next year.