Alternative Business Structures


Alternative business structures are a new type of law firm which can be owned by non-lawyers and can provide both legal and non-legal services. In practice, this might mean the establishment of new businesses that provide a range of different services under one roof, such as estate agency and conveyancing, or it might mean that large national retail chains open their own law firms on the high street.

Whatever types of businesses emerge, this should promote greater competition and enable more choice for consumers. However, it is also essential that appropriate consumer safeguards are put in place and the impact on access to justice is watched carefully. The Panel has been closely involved in the design of the new regulatory system – our consultation responses can be accessed below.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers licensed the first Alternative Business Structure on 6 October 2011. The Solicitors Regulation Authority became a licensing authority in early 2012. As the new firms become a reality, the Panel’s focus is starting to shift to monitoring the changing legal services market, making use of complaints and other intelligence to identify new areas of detriment. Where necessary, we will suggest improvements to the regulatory framework.

Key Documents


Date: 
29 July 2013

Title: 
IPReg -application to become a licensing authority (pdf, 115kb)

Description: 
Advice to the Legal Services Board on the application from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys for a recommendation for designation as a licensing authority


Date: 
22 July 2013

Title: 
ICAEW – applications to become an approved regulator – supplementary advice (pdf, 57kb)

Description: 
Supplementary advice to the Legal Services Board regarding changes to applications by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to become an approved regulator and licensing authority for probate activities


Date: 
05 March 2013

Title: 
ICAEW – applications to become an approved regulator (pdf, 97kb)

Description: 
The Panel’s response to applications by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to become an approved regulator and licensing authority for probate activities


Date: 
11 September 2012

Title: 
IPReg – Review of its regulatory arrangements and plans to license ABS firms (pdf, 454kb)

Description: 
The Panel’s response to the Intellectual Property Regulation Board’s consultation on a review of its regulatory arrangements and proposals to regulate licensed bodies under the ABS regime


Date: 
5 September 2012

Title: 
ICAEW – consultation on its draft licensing authority application for probate work (pdf, 126kb)

Description: 
The Panel’s consultation response to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as it prepares a licensing authority application to regulate bodies conducting probate work


Date: 
4 April 2011

Title: 
LSB – SRA application to become a Licensing Authority (pdf, 121kb)

Description: 
Response to the LSB on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s application to become a Licensing Authority


Date: 
7 March 2011

Title: 
LSB – CLC application to become a Licensing Authority (pdf, 96kb)

Description: 
Response to the LSB on the Council for Licensed Conveyancers’ application to become a Licensing Authority


Date: 
18 January 2011

Title: 
SRA – Architecture of change Part 2: the new handbook (pdf, 120kb)

Description: 
Response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s further consultation on its new handbook


Date: 
22 December 2010

Title: 
BSB – Regulating entities

Description: 
Response to the Bar Standards Board consultation on whether to regulate entities


Date: 
25 October 2010

Title: 
CLC – Code of Conduct (pdf, 126kb)

Description: 
Response to the Council of Licensed Conveyancers consultation on its new Code of Conduct


Date: 
30 July 2010

Title: 
SRA – New Handbook (pdf, 170kb)

Description: 
Response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority consultation on its new handbook


Date: 
23 July 2010

Title: 
SRA – Outcomes-focused regulation (pdf, 160kb)

Description: 
Response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority consultation on transforming the SRA’s regulation of legal services


Date: 
26 February 2010

Title: 
SRA – Outcomes Based Regulation (pdf, 118kb)

Description: 
Response to Solicitors Regulation Authority consultation on proposals for an outcome-based approach to regulation


Date: 
17 February 2010

Title: 
LSB – ABS Licensing (pdf, 163kb)

Description: 
Response to Legal Services Board consultation on approaches to licensing Alternative Business Structures.