News releases

Approval for the Handbook and licensing authority application: Statement from the Chair, Charles Plant

"I am delighted to announce that the SRA Board has today given final approval to both the new Handbook and the application to become a licensing authority for alternative business structures (ABS), when they enter the legal services market on 6 October, 2011.

This is the culmination of two years of intensive preparation, which has included two major public consultations, a comprehensive programme of roadshows, bilateral meetings with representative bodies and other stakeholders, and significant input from stakeholder reference groups. All work has been subject to detailed Board scrutiny.

The Handbook sets out the new regulatory arrangements to support the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation on 6 October. The Board is confident that it provides an effective framework for both the new regulatory approach and the safe licensing of ABS.

The Board believes it is in the public interest for ABS to be regulated by the SRA, and therefore subject to the same rigorous professional standards as traditional law firms. The Board has been very mindful of the need not simply to design a robust scheme, but also to ensure that the SRA is an organisation capable of delivering it.

At its meeting today, the Board reviewed the position, and is satisfied that there is a comprehensive programme in place to deliver the licensing of ABS, and the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation, to the timetable to which the new Board committed itself over a year ago, and to which it has delivered on schedule.

It now remains for the Law Society Council to approve the licensing authority application, at its meeting on 23 March."

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