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Law Society to Challenge ICAEW's Bid to Regulate Probate

The Law Society will contest the application by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to regulate probate services and alternative business structures (ABSs), Legal Futures has reported.

The Society is particularly concerned that the application ICAEW filed to the Legal Services Board (LSB) last December doesn't offer the separation of regulatory and representative functions as has been required of it and the other professional bodies within the sector.

The ICAEW plans a twin-track approach to allow accountants to do probate work; accountancy firms could become authorised firms, which means all owners and principals are individually authorised to handle probate. They can also choose the other option of becoming licensed bodies (ABSs), in which not all owners and principals are authorised to conduct probate.

The ICAEW also wishes to become a regulator of will writing activities should the government follow the recommendation by the LSB for will writing to become a reserved legal activity.

A Law Society spokeswoman said that while the Legal Services Act 2007 allows for multiple licensing bodies and regulators to operate in the market, it is important for all industry stakeholders that there is a level playing field of provision. High regulatory standards must be maintained across the entire sector and the risk of regulatory arbitrage must be cut to the minimum.