Firms in Scotland are growing increasingly frustrated by delays to the advent of alternative business structures north of the border, according to senior lawyers.
The Law Society of Scotland confirmed last week that its plans to be an approved regulator of the new entities are on hold until the end of 2013, after the Scottish government raised concerns.
The society – the only applicant to regulate licensed legal services providers (LPs) – has been told there are issues with plans to regulate LPs in the same way as individuals.
The Scottish government wants a revised application that will then require consultation with the lord president and the Office of Fair Trading.
Douglas Connell, senior partner at Edinburgh firm Turcan Connell, said the hold-up was ‘inexplicable’ given the government’s stated commitment to ABS-style reforms.
‘Scotland is already behind the curve in this developing area and those firms who want to progress to ABS status are frustrated by the delays,’ he said.
However Scott Docherty, partner at Dumbarton firm McArthur Stanton, said the delay could offer smaller firms more time to plan joint ventures with service providers, mirroring models created in England and Wales.
Under the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, non-lawyers can take a stake in law firms, but solicitors or other regulated professions will have to own 51% of any new licensed providers.