Delays for Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) but Outcome Focused Regulations (OFR) are just around the corner

on 5 September, 2011 Email this Email this - Print this Print this

An Update on Progress by David Mort, IRN Research

In October 2011, Core Legal is planning a half-day CPD-accredited workshop in London offering practical advice and guidance to law firms and solicitors on how to achieve Outcome Focused Regulation (OFR) and deal with Compliance.

If you would like advance details of this event please contact

In the meantime, Core Legal member David Mort of IRN Research provides a quick update on the anticipated changes coming soon covering both OFR and ABSs:

Outcome Focused Regulation
OFR launched in October 2011, focuses on the high-level principles and outcomes that should drive the provision of legal services for consumers. The existing detailed and prescriptive rulebook will be replaced with a targeted, risk-based approach concentrating on the standards of service to consumers. There will be greater flexibility for firms in how they achieve outcomes (standards of service) for clients.

The detailed strictures of the old rules have been replaced by an outline of the 10 mandatory ‘principles’, professional standards expected of the solicitor and firm at all times. The arrival of OFR gives the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) various powers, including the ability to visit law firms at random or carry out risk-based assessments and receive an annual compliance report. Law firms will also have to nominate a dedicated compliance officer for legal practice by March 2012.

Background details regarding OFR can be found at:,

Alternative Business Structures (ABSs)

ABSs, also due in October 2011, have been delayed and the first ones are not expected to be up and running until 2012. It seems that almost every week the legal press mentions a business or brand ready to become an ABS, from the Co-op and DAS Insurance to online legal services on their way from the USA and established law firms like Irwin Mitchell, but they will have to wait as the parliamentary process needed to enact the legislation behind ABSs has been delayed.

Formal applications to become ABSs can only be submitted once the SRA is designated as a licensing authority and this is not likely until the end of 2011 at the earliest. Then the SRA can take up to six months to make a decision on a specific ABS application.

So, more competition in legal services is coming but high street law firms and solicitors have a little more time to consider their responses to this new competition.

For more information, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) published a guide to ABSs ( in August 2011 and a forthcoming Core Legal White Paper in October 2011 will explore their likely impact in more detail.

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Topics: Alternative Business Structures · Hot Topics

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jason Cobine // Sep 6, 2011 at 1:14 am

    It seems likely that the first real adoption of ABS’s might happen when nobody is looking. The London Olympics will be the focus of all attention so will the public even notice? Or is that the idea?

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