ICAEW consults on its plans to regulate legal services

A CONSULTATION has been launched by the ICAEW into its plans to regulate probate services and alternative business structures.

The institute’s application to become a regulator follows the introduction of the Legal Services Act, which opened up the provision of legal advice to non-lawyers, as well as the opportunity to create multi-disciplinary practices.

Under the act, regulators can be set up to watch over businesses looking to provide legal services. The regulator would also issue licences to firms looking to set up formal structures incorporating both lawyers and non-lawyers.

In its guidance, the ICAEW warns practitioners that law firms wishing to set up as ABSs could look to poach their staff.

“Members in practice should also be alert to the possibility of losing staff to a law-firm ABS wishing to widen their services to clients, to include tax or other accounting or business services,” it stated.

The process to approve the institute as a regulator is expected to take 12 months.

Vernon Soare, ICAEW executive director of professional standards, said: “The decision whether to become a provider of legal services and/or change to an ABS is for ICAEW members and firms to consider. We have developed guidance to help firms in making this decision.”

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