Law Society claims that the public interest cannot prove to have been served by the ICAEW's move into probate - and as such should not be used by the institute as evidence to back its push into further legal services
THE LAW SOCIETY has again poured scorn on the ICAEW’s attempt to expand into legal services.
A business case made by the institute to expand its regulatory reach into more legal services is “not compelling”, the Law Society has claimed.
An application was made by the institute to the Legal Services Board, with the accountants seeking to extend their reach beyond just probate services and into tax-related legal services, including conduct of litigation; rights of audience; and administration of oaths.
The Law Society has previously spoken out against the ICAEW’s successful expansion into probate, claiming the institute’s move was of “self-interest” rather than “the public interest”.
Its latest missive questions the ICAEW’s claim that its move into probate has added competition into the market and was therefore in the public interest.
“This success is measured purely in terms of numbers, firm size and geographical spread, with a direct link made from these factors to increasing competition, access to justice and, thus, the public interest. There is no tangible evidence, however, that there has been any increase in competition and, in particular, any increase in access to justice,” the society said in a statement.
The Law Society’s response will be the first test for the ICAEW’s new head of professional standards Duncan Wiggetts – appointed yesterday. Vernon Soare, who was the key architect in the institute’s move into previously restricted legal services, has moved up to COO from the professional standards role.
In November the ICAEW celebrated its 100th firm registered to become an alternative business structure, a key plank of the ICAEW’s legal licensing reach that was entitled in 2014.