Chartered accountancy regulator the ICAEW has received a crumb of comfort from the lord chancellor in its long-running campaign to become a regulator of reserved legal activities. David Gauke revealed today that he has decided to grant an application for the ICAEW to become an approved regulator and licensing authority in relation to the administration of oaths.

The decision, in a letter to the ICAEW's chief executive, follows a High Court ruling in March refusing permission to challenge a 2017 decision by Gauke's predecessor David Lidington not to expand the ICAEW's regulatory role beyond probate services. The ICAEW had applied to become a regulator of all reserved legal activities under the 2007 Legal Services Act, which would have been a further fillip to accountancy firms seeking to encroach further upon lawyers' traditional terrain.

The court ruled the lord chancellor was within his rights to decline the application, but said the application to relating to the administration of oaths should be reconsidered. 

In his letter, Gauke says that he has now done so and decided to make orders designating the ICAEW an approved regulator and licensing body for the administration of oaths. Among other factors, he had decided that the action has the potential to widen access to justice, 'albeit slightly'. 

The move is subject to parliamentary approval 'when parliamentary time allows'.