Legal Services Consumer Panel
Alternative business structures are a new type of law firm which can be owned by non-lawyers and can provide both legal and non-legal services. In practice, this might mean the establishment of new businesses that provide a range of different services under one roof, such as estate agency and conveyancing, or it might mean that large national retail chains open their own law firms on the high street.
Whatever types of businesses emerge, this should promote greater competition and enable more choice for consumers. However, it is also essential that appropriate consumer safeguards are put in place and the impact on access to justice is watched carefully. The Panel has been closely involved in the design of the new regulatory system - our consultation responses can be accessed below.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers licensed the first Alternative Business Structure on 6 October 2011. The Solicitors Regulation Authority became a licensing authority in early 2012. As the new firms become a reality, the Panel’s focus is starting to shift to monitoring the changing legal services market, making use of complaints and other intelligence to identify new areas of detriment. Where necessary, we will suggest improvements to the regulatory framework.