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ICAEW Becomes ABS Licensing Authority

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) will soon step into the role of license issuer for alternative business structures (ABSs) that provide probate services, Legal Future reports. The UK Parliament approved the order allowing ICAEW to assume the role in late July.

It is expected that the order will become law this month, making the institute a legitimate ABS licensing authority. Earlier in July, Parliament passed an order designating the Institute as an approved regulator for reserved probate services, permitting accountants to undertake activities that are usually carried out by solicitors.

A number of firms have already displayed interest in taking advantage of the institute's newly acquired role. Legal Futures quotes Peter James, head of regulation at the ICAEW as saying that the passing of the orders brought him both "delight and relief", as 40 firms had already approached the institute with questions regarding the ABS licensing process. James expects that the ICAEW will be able to accept ABS applications from September.

The institute applied for an approved regulator under the Act back in 2012, Economia ICAEW reports. The consultations and legal processes following its application took time, as an approval had to be obtained from the Legal Services Board and the Lord Chancellor. Parliamentary agreement to secondary legislation had to be gained too.

The firms applying for license from ICAEW to offer probate services will have to apply for authorisation before actually starting offering the services. The time it takes for them to gain that authorisation will vary, depending on how big the firms are and how complex their structure is.