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How to apply for an ABS licence

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A practical guide to applying for an ABS (Alternative Business Structure) licence through the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Published in: Law
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How to apply for an ABS licence

  1. 1. How to apply for an ABS licence
  2. 2. What is licensable? The Legal Services Act 2007 allows you to: • Take on external investment • Offer innovative products and make the most of cross selling services • Include non-lawyers as part of the management team • Enter into joint ventures with referrers • Make comprehensive succession plans • Implement the most tax effective business structure You will need at least: • One Solicitor who is ‘qualified to supervise’ • One non-lawyer involved as a manager or owner
  3. 3. Recent examples • Estate planning company • HR Consultancy • Existing law firms • Quantity surveyors • Dental brokers • Law schools • CMCs
  4. 4. Themes • Planning for succession • In response to regulatory change • Needing regulation • Cross-selling to existing client base • Joint ventures • Gap in the market • Niche or industry expertise
  5. 5. Your first three questions 1. What are you trying to achieve? 2. Is ABS the right option for you? 3. What are your risks?
  6. 6. Your starting point 1. Business plan 2. Financial projections 3. Set up the entity and structure 4. PI Insurance quote 5. People
  7. 7. The Application itself You must include: • Main application form (FA1) • Individual/company application forms (FA2 and FA3) • Structure chart • Business plan and financial projections • Constitution documents • PII quote • Evidence of external funding • ‘Certificate of good standing’ from other regulators
  8. 8. Additional documents • Index to the application bundle • Continuation Sheet • Additional financial information • Companies House documents • Publicity material • CVs • Retainer documents • Index to office procedure manual • Any other docs, e.g. info regarding CCJ
  9. 9. What happens next • Submit the application by email • Triage by authorisation team • Allocated to a case handler • Background checks • Risk letter • Invoice • Decision • Insurance certificate • Start date
  10. 10. Top Tips • Time spent on preparation is well-spent • (But don’t agonise over the finer detail) • Help your Authorisation Officer • Pick up the phone • Send a complete application • Legal Services Act – regulatory objectives • Risk management • Evidence everything • Answer questions and engage properly • Take a ‘cards on the table’ approach
  11. 11. Common hurdles • Structure / ownership not fully decided • Failing to keep it simple • PII • The forms and missing data • Atlantic Data checks • Past issues with owners and managers • Firm or individual compliance issues
  12. 12. Innovation • SRA Innovate • Waivers • Reform
  13. 13. Timescales 1. Preparation 2. Drafting 3. SRA approval SRA fees • Application fee £2000; and • £150 for each individual and/or company that needs to be authorised
  14. 14. COLP-Help…Compliance outsourcing Unique 5-step model 1. Initial audit 2. Remedial action 3. Regular on-going monitoring 4. Audit trial 5. Expert advice and support Benefits: Save the COLP 5-10 hours per month of non-chargeable time Reduce the risk of unwelcome SRA attention Maintain the firm’s quality output Peace of mind
  15. 15. Talk to us Stand L564 info@jonathonbray.com www.jonathonbray.com @Jonathon_Bray

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