Accountants on verge of regulating legal services

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Jun 28, 2017
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David Lidington, the lord chancellor, still needs to approve the proposal to grant powers to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Jeff Overs/BBC

Old school lawyers will still be catching their breath after regulators announced earlier this week that one of the country’s accountancy bodies will be allowed to license reserved legal activities.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is on the verge of being approved as an authorised regulator after getting the nod from the Legal Services Board. Once the lord chancellor approves the recommendation the accountancy body will be able to regulate three areas in relation to tax law: the conduct of litigation, rights of audience and reserved instrument activities.

In addition, the board has agreed that the institute should be allowed to regulate notarial services and the administration of oaths.

In 2014 the institute became an approved regulator of probate services. Since then, it has authorised more than 280 accountancy firms to provide probate.

Should the application be approved ICAEW will be the first legal regulator and licensing authority to regulate all six reserved legal activities and the second approved regulator for notarial services since 1533.

Duncan Wiggetts, the ICAEW’s director of professional standards, described the board’s move as “a positive step for consumers looking for reserved legal services who want to use appropriately qualified ICAEW Chartered Accountants firms as an alternative to traditional providers”. “The LSB’s decision is evidence of the role that it is playing in transforming the provision of legal services and giving more choice to the consumer,” he said.

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