The body regulating intellectual property lawyers has successfully applied to authorise new alternative business structures.
The Legal Services Board has formally approved the Intellectual Property Regulation Board’s application to be a licensing authority for certain reserved legal activities.
The rights sought in the application are limited to the exercise of a right of audience, conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities and the administration of oaths.
The IPReg has regulated firms on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys since January 2010. It already deals with a number of firms with non-lawyer owners, although such arrangements have previously limited such ownership to 25% of the firm.
The LSB said the IPReg boasted the required licensing rules, appeals policy and internal governance to be considered an approved regulator.
Its decision notice added: ‘The LSB is satisfied that IPReg is competent and has sufficient resources in place. It has already demonstrated its capability as an approved regulator and has researched and planned for additional resources to fulfil its role as a licensing authority.’
The application process has taken since 21 May this year and will end with the lord chancellor formally granting authorisation.
Meanwhile, a similar application from the Institute for Chartered Accountants on England and Wales for approved regulator status could take until next autumn, the ICAEW has warned.
The authority wrote to the LSB last month asking to amend its application to make an amendment on first-tier tribunals.
According to a letter sent by ICAEW executive director of professional standards Vernon Soare, discussions have continued with the MoJ and LSB over the drafting of two orders for ‘some considerable time’.
If the impasse continues to drag, Soare continued, the ICAEW application could take as long as two years in total – a delay that would, he suggested, undermine the original objectives of the Legal Services Act.
The SRA and Council for Licensed Conveyancers are already authorised to approve ABSs.