THE ICAEW is set to expand its regulatory authority, becoming a licensing body for alternative business structures.
Created under the so-called Tesco law, ABSs will allow non-lawyers such as accountants to form firms with legal professionals, as part of moves to significantly deregulate the industry.
The ICAEW is in talks with the Legal Services Board to make a formal application next year, after the Solicitors Regulation Authority said it will start licensing applications for ABSs from 3 January.
Felicity Banks, head of business law at the institute, said members already boast extensive experience in various aspects of probate work, and this move would allow them to provide a complete service.
“We have been regulating multi-disciplinary practices more many years. I can’t remember a time when accountancy firms were restricted to accountant-only partners. Until now, the legal profession was the only one we weren’t allowed to regulate, so this is a natural step.”
Nevertheless, the timetable is “a bit difficult” as the details are still being hammered out at the LSB.
Banks said the institute hopes to license its first ABSs by the end of 2012.
In these member firms, partners of any profession will be required to sign up to the ICAEW’s ethical code, but the institute will regulate the entity rather than individuals.
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