The Legal Services Board has approved the Bar Standards Board as a licensing body for alternative business structures, which will see the regulator approving applications more than two years after it had originally intended.
The bar regulator said it expects it to start licensing ABSs from October 2016, subject to parliamentary approval. When the BSB confirmed its move into ABSs in 2012, it suggested that it could approve its first ABS in early 2014.
In December last year the launch date for its ABS regulation was pushed back further from June, due to the ‘extended consultation periods’ now required by the Ministry of Justice.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been approving ABS licenses since June 2011, with a number of barristers' chambers already opting to set up with the solicitors' regulator.
The director of supervision at the BSB, Oliver Hanmer, welcomed the approval. He said: ‘It is a testament to our desire to encourage innovation and competition and to improve access to justice within the legal services market.’
The BSB will give further details about the process and the likely timescales for implementation over the coming weeks.