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ABS applications near 100-mark in first month

Since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opened its doors to applications on 3 January, it has received nearly 100 requests from firms looking to be licensed as Alternative Business Structures (ABS).

The SRA has received 96 Stage 1 forms, which are an expression of interest from the firm in starting the process. Those that submit a Stage 1 application are then sent a bespoke Stage 2 form, which is tailored to the specifications of their organisation.

This is much a more detailed part of the process, with questions asked including details on those involved in the delivery of legal services and the corporate structure of the organisation.

Antony Townsend, SRA Chief Executive, said: "The number of applications is very interesting and encouraging. I was on record at the end of last year as saying that we expected much lower numbers of applications.

"However, we'll have to wait and see if the numbers of Stage 1 applications we receive is consistent with the number of actual ABS we eventually regulate. We have an authorisation process that is very rigorous, so 96 applications doesn't necessarily translate into 96 organisations being regulated as ABS.”

Ann Morgan, ABS Team Manager, added: "We've had plenty of applications to keep us busy. The majority of Stage 1 applicants have received their bespoke forms and the ball is now in their court to get them back to us so we can assess them. When we've had a number of those back, we'll have a much better idea of when we'll license our first ABS.”

Although the statutory provisions allow for up to six months for applications to be processed, with a possible three-month extension in particularly complex cases, the SRA is aiming to deal with straightforward applications much more quickly.

Those wanting further information on the application process should go to the ABS pages of this website.

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