Practice – Group A firms against MDPs

Medium-sized accountancy firms have lashed out at the idea of mixed accountancy and law practices.

Big Six accountants and many small High Street practitioners are keen to link up with lawyers, after it was revealed the Law Society had discussed lifting its ban on multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs). But few Group A firms are planning to take advantage of the change.

Clive Parritt, chairman of Baker Tilly, is one of the strongest opponents to linking up with lawyers: ‘This would turn law and accounting into a packaged product and, as in a supermarket, the choice you can give the customer is limited. It is unlikely to bring in increased profit, as clients will expect fees for in-house lawyers, or for accountants to be cheaper than using a separate firm.

‘A lot of accountants are probably advising conglomerates to break up and focus on one area of business; why should the professions go the other way?’ he said.

Frank Akers-Douglas, personal tax partner at Smith & Williamson, said: ‘If we had in-house lawyers we would be perceived as being in direct competition with local law firms. We currently receive referred work from legal firms and that would be affected.’

Other firms which have already decided not to become MDPs include Horwath Clark Whitehill, Grant Thornton, Moore Stephens Booth White and Baker Tilly.

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