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SRA finally allow ABS to go live

SRA finally allow ABS to go live

At last the SRA have announced that they will accept applications to form ABS from 3rd January 2012.

After critisism from commentators about delays that prevented the start date of October 6 from taking effect, the SRA have finally announced that they will begin to accept applications for alternative business structures from 3rd January 2012.

The order designating the SRA as the designating authority was laid before parliament on 1st December, and will accept applications in the new year. It is expected that the first announcements will be made as to those who have succeeded in early February 2012.

A number of major firms including Irwin Mitchell have announced that they intend to take advantage of the new structure, alllow the introduction of external capital to further plans for growth. Iain Miller of Bevan Brittan ( who spoke at the St Pauls Chambers seminar on SRA regulation last year) has warned that SRA regulated ABS firms run by outsourcing companies such as Capita and Serco will blur the distinction between in house and private practice see law society gazette  1.12.12 

The Bar however, seem behind the curve. Although surveys conducted on new business arrangements seemed to gain support from independent members of the bar, there seems to be little appetite for this form of business arrangement at present. Whilst many chambers are talking about the 'procure co' model, the recent decision to put back the start date for criminal tendering seems to have been seen by many as an opportunity to take 'the foot of the pedal'.

The advantages of an ABS structure for the bar are clear, and it is fortunate that the BSB are preparing a consultation, due to be released in January 2012, allowing forward thinking sets to take advantage of the commercial flexibility that an ABS structure would permit. The tendancy of the bar to bury its head in the face of change is a constant refrain from within the Bar Council. The fear of many is that if chambers do not take advantage of the new arrangements that are permitted, much of their present workload will become a commoditised service, fertile ground for the outsourcers as Iain Miller warns.

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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