Any lawyers and managers involved in any aspect of developing a legal practice should find this extensive overview of where we stand on OFR and ABS helpful; an informative and enlightening review from Charles Plant, Chair of the SRA, given in November 2010 which covers key issues and actions being taken on introducing these new initiatives. There is a lot here about the rationale for some of the important measures and next steps to work through remaining issues.
Key areas covered:
- Useful summary of where we are up to; the 3 generic ABS modules; particular issues in the MDP model and steps to address
- SRA’s objective to be sole regulator of ABSs – level playing field
- Retaining elements of established compliance procedures; transition to and from ABS; attack on poor, unregulated providers of non-reserved legal services
- SRA regulation of providers of non-reserved legal services within an ABS – NOT exclusion of non-regulated services from SRA role. Section 69 order to amend legislation – how being progressed with LSB
- Compensation fund – apply to all as an interim measure; charge investigations to defaulting businesses
- Roles of COLP and COPA (formerly HOLP and HOFA) maybe one person – all regulated organisations, not just ABS
- Impact of external ownership and potential conflicts; ABS requirement – systems to identify potential conflicts
- Criteria for refusal of applications for authorisation as an ABS; conditions, suspension and revocation of ABS authorisation
- Guarding against pre-emptive ABSs – conditional contracts; timescales – on target?