Trevor Howarth, legal director of Stobart Barristers, has been granted an alternative business structure licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a company he set up with an employment barrister, he confirmed today.
The SRA has licensed One Legal, a company set up by Howarth and employment barrister Tim Edge of Deans Court Chambers in Manchester, as an ABS.
Howarth would not reveal details of the company, what it does, or who it employs at this stage, but he said he would be making a ‘full announcement in the next few weeks’.
According to Companies House, One Legal was incorporated in September 2012 and registered in Preston. The two directors, Howarth and Edge own equal shares in the company.
The SRA’s register of ABSs lists Edge as the head of legal practice and Andrew Whaling as the head of finance and administration.
The company is licensed to undertake rights of audience, conduct litigation, reserved instrument activities, probate activities and the administration of oaths.
Companies House also shows that a Timothy Edge is the founder of a company called Stamford Business and Legal Services, along with Alison Edge. That company was set up in September 2011 and registered in Preston.
An employment barrister called Tim Edge posted a testimonial on the Stobart Group’s website in March 2012, which said: ‘When faced with defending complex harassment and discrimination claims, it is the standard of the investigation that often matters most. I have been involved in a number of such cases where the investigation has been prepared by Stobart Business Services. It is evidently clear in these cases that the standard of the investigation is exemplary.’
The Stobart Group logistics business already has an insurance brokerage arm and a claims management arm, as well as Stobart Barristers – a company that charges a fee to put members of the public in touch with a public access barrister.
Howarth said One Legal is the ‘final piece in the jigsaw to offer a one-stop shop’. He would not be drawn on his plans for the ABS or on whether he would seek to enter the criminal defence market. But he said: ‘Now, having the positive response from the SRA, we’re looking at developing it very quickly.’
Howarth, together with the chief executive of the Stobart Group Andrew Tinkler, face a civil trial for contempt of court, arising from allegations that they lied in an attempt to silence a whistle blower Peter Elliott, a former contractor at an aviation company owned by Tinkler.
Elliott was sentenced to three months in prison in June 2009 after breaching an injunction taken out by Stobart Group executives. He has since sought to challenge the conviction, claiming that Howarth, Tinkler and other Stobart executives had lied in order to persuade the judge to grant the injunction.
In April, in the High Court Mr Justice Pelling ruled that there was a prima facie case to send seven allegations to a civil trial for contempt. Howarth has appealed that decision.