ACCA needs to consider the future needs of its SMPs and how its regulatory framework can best support the sector by exploring new forms of authorisation in legal services. We are therefore looking at the options to invest in licensing and regulating legal services for our members. This may provide you with the opportunity to participate in the legal services market in England and Wales and extend your service offerings. Increasing competition and access to legal services is positive for the accountancy profession and in the public interest.
The legal services sector in England and Wales underwent significant regulatory change in 2007 with the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act). The Act sets out six Reserved Legal Activities that can only be carried on by persons authorised by an Approved Regulator under the oversight of the Legal Services Board (LSB). The Act also allows lawyers and non-lawyers to offer services covering multi-disciplines (including Reserved Legal Activities) through Alternative Business Structures (ABS), and non-lawyers (eg accountants, family members, managers) to take financial interests in such firms.
ACCA has been an Approved Regulator for the Reserved Legal Activity of probate since 2009. However, it does not currently authorise members for probate activities. ACCA is not an Approved Regulator for the other five Reserved Legal Activities or a Licensing Authority for ABS.
In September 2014, ICAEW started authorising its members (and others) to provide probate services and licensing firms as ABS. ICAEW has recently applied to the LSB to regulate the remaining five Reserved Legal Activities (although in the case of conduct of litigation, rights of audience and reserved instrument activities its remit would be restricted to taxation).
ACCA did not put in place the necessary regulations and procedures to authorise members for probate activities due to perceived risks and costs concerning oversight by the LSB and also uncertainties relating to changes in legal services regulation. However, circumstances have changed and ACCA is currently engaging with the LSB in order to establish a proportionate framework for probate regulation and LSB oversight. We are also considering applying to the LSB for Approved Regulator status in respect of other Reserved Legal Activities.
Request for feedback In order to help us to deliver ongoing member value and gauge the demand for further legal services accreditation, we invite you to complete this short survey about reserved legal activities. Your feedback will assist ACCA with proposed applications to the LSB to regulate reserved legal activities.
It should take around 10 minutes to complete and the questionnaire will be open until 12 December 2016.
Your responses will remain completely anonymous and only aggregate data will be shared with the LSB and/or published.