Bar Standards Board’s 2017/18 business plan confirms regulator will now license ABSs

As of the beginning of this month, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has now begun licensing alternative business structures (ABSs) under the Legal Services Act.

The move, which comes as part of the BSB’s 2017/18 business plan, makes the Board the fifth front-line legal regulator to offer its support to such operators, which will include legal services companies that are owned by non-professionals.

Commenting on the development, which was announced on 3 April 2017, Oliver Hammer, director of regulatory assurance at the BSB, said: “We are pleased to announce that we are able to start regulating ABSs. Although we are cautious about the number of ABSs that may choose to be regulated by us, we believe this development encourages further innovation in the provision of legal services.

Another BSB spokesperson added: “Prior to today’s launch, we ran a pilot with a number of potential ABSs to test our application processes.

“From that pilot, we expect to license four ABSs subject to fee payment and them confirming that they have appropriate insurance arrangements in place”.

A new edition of the BSB handbook has recently been published to reflect the new regime and to highlight what are now officially deemed to be ‘licensed bodies’.

The BSB’s 2017/18 business plan has also revealed a slight reduction in the regulator’s budget for the coming financial year, which now sits at £7.8m, down from £8.04m in 2016/17.

Salhan Accountants are a multi award-winning firm who specialise in advising Barristers and legal professionals. For more information about our specialist services, please contact us.