LSB recommends new ABS licensing authority

The Legal Services Board has recommended to the Lord Chancellor that the General Council of the Bar(Bar Council), becomes a licensing authority for alternative business structures (ABS).

Should the Lord Chancellor accept this recommendation, the Bar Council will be given the authority, which it will delegate to the Bar Standards Board (BSB), to license ABS entities to provide the following reserved legal activities:

  • the exercise of a right of audience
  • the conduct of litigation
  • reserved instrument activities
  • probate activities, and
  • the administration of oaths.

The Board has also recommended to the Lord Chancellor that the Bar Council be designated as a licensing authority for the provision of immigration advice and services in its capacity as a qualifying regulator.

Legal Services Board’s Chairman Sir Michael Pitt said:

“ABS are a valuable contributor to the innovation and increase in consumer choice that we wish to see across the whole legal services sector. We are therefore delighted to be recommending to the Lord Chancellor that the Bar Council becomes a licensing authority for ABS.

The BSB has, on behalf of the Bar Council been able to authorise non-ABS entities since April 2015 and this is the final step in its development as a regulator of entities.

Should the recommendation be accepted, the BSB will join the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Council for Licenced Conveyancers, the Intellectual Property Regulation Board and the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales in being able to authorise non-lawyer owned legal firms.


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