Legal Business

The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang

As this issue hits desks, it will be ten years since the Legal Services Act gained Royal Assent, ushering in the most liberal services market in the world by some margin. Given that span of time, and the five years since the most radical elements of the act came into force with the regime for alternative business structures (ABS), it is natural to ask if it has lived up to billing.

There clearly was an impact of sorts, supporting an environment where new business models and fresh thinking were encouraged. That renewed the legal ambitions of the accountants, encouraged the pioneering UK launch of Slater and Gordon, and made Co-op as close as we have got to Tesco law. After a slow initial start there are now over 700 licensed ABSs in England and Wales, representing a significant chunk of the market. Also significant is the messy regulatory fallout and ongoing turf war that it triggered, which has continued with varying degrees of intensity ever since.