The accounting profession has been given hope that reforms aimed at opening
up the legal services market could be more inclusive than first suggested.
A response to the legal services bill by the Department of Constitutional
Affairs (DCA) has left the door open include accounting firms under the remit of
an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) in certain circumstances, which would
enable different professionals to work together as partners in the same firm.
The DCA said the timetable for this reform should not be delayed if the bill
‘The government… intends to enable those professional bodies with appropriate
regulatory and other arrangements to regulate entities that fall short of the
Bill’s definition of an ABS entity,’ the DCA said.
Will writing should remain an unreserved service, the DCA added.
‘It appears they could be considering something short of a full-blown ABS,’
said Caron Bradshaw, business law manager at the ICAEW.
‘We feel clearly that well-qualified professionals should be able to work on
an even footing.’
The ICAEW had
the Joint Committee’s report into the bill in July for failing to
remove additional regulatory burden on the profession to provide advice in areas
such as probates and trusts.
Further debate in parliament on the bill is understood to be timetabled for
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