I noted with interest the recent decision by the Lord Chancellor to reject the application made by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England & Wales (“ICAEW”) for permission to offer a wide range of legal services. The ICAEW has argued that the application had been made mainly to enable accountants to offer a wider range of services on tax.

However, it was decided that there was no need for the enlargement of the range of legal services already being offered to the public at this stage.  This decision means that for the foreseeable future, the provision of multi disciplinary services will continue to be offered via alternative business structures (“ABS”) and in accordance with regulation from the SRA.

As LCL move through our second year of trading, I remain convinced that the under utilised tool of the ABS is the most effective way to deliver a range of legal services to the SME sector. Despite the reasonable upbeat news on the UK economy which continues to prevail, many of the businesses that we have worked with in the past 12 months continue to live hand to mouth. Such businesses struggle to pay the fees which allow access to first class professional advice and support. Often such advice can make a big difference to the SME. Whether it be improving cash management, collecting debts, getting the best advice on raising finance or agreeing a set of trade terms and conditions which can better protect the business.

LCL are increasingly working alongside the Leonard Curtis Lifecycle network of accountants and continue to provide an integrated set of services to them. Recent examples include :-

  1. Providing advice to a maintenance company operating in the construction sector to improve their prospects for raising more finance by advising on a new set of terms and conditions.
  2. Giving advice to a client providing specialist services to other SMEs on data protection.
  3. Providing advice to a group of individuals on a new partnership agreement.
  4. Assisting a manufacturing company with a distribution agreement to export goods to the USA.

In each case, the advice has been delivered as part of the general support given by the client’s accountant. We feel that an integrated approach from the professions to support growing businesses and their owners, has to be the best way forward.

See you next month.

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