13 Oct 2016 12:00pm

SRA imposes additional conditions on PwC’s new ABS licence

The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) has imposed additional conditions on PwC’s new Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licence following PwC’s decision to absorb PwC Legal
Caption: SRA imposes conditions on ABS licence after firm's decision to absorb PwC Legal

PwC began integrating PwC Legal into its UK business at the beginning of the month - forming a multi-disciplinary practice - following the approval by the SRA of PwC Legal as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) in 2014.

PwC Legal no longer exists as a standalone law firm and now forms part of PwC.

The SRA has issued a new ABS licence to PwC with additional conditions, which extend SRA requirements to PwC lawyers engaged in unreserved legal work.

Under the new conditions, the SRA states that a solicitor, registered foreign lawyer or registered European lawyer who is a manager, employee or owner of PwC and is engaged in legal activity that is not regulated activity should not act for a client where there is a conflict of interest unless the client has given consent and appropriate safeguards can be put in place that are consistent with the SRA principles and maintain the confidentiality of the affairs of that client.

PwC has also been told it must inform the SRA as soon as reasonably practicable if any part of its business ceases to be regulated by ICAEW and/or becomes the subject of any regulatory proceedings or sanctions by ICAEW or any other regulator.

ICAEW became the first non-legal regulator and licencing authority for the purpose of probate activities and ABSs in March 2014.

The SRA also granted a number of waivers to PwC, meaning the Big Four firm will not be required to receive SRA approval of managers in advance of their appointment.

In addition, current and future members of PwC who are not involved in the day-to-day management or compliance of PwC and/or its legal services business will not need SRA approval and PwC will not be required to secure additional indemnity insurance.

Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director, policy, said, “Clients have always had needs that cut across professional boundaries and subject specialism. A multi-disciplinary service allows those clients to get access to all the services they need, organised at their convenience rather that the convenience of professions.

“We therefore welcome PwC's shift to become a full multi-disciplinary practice. It is one more example of how modern regulation can work to support innovation.”

Kevin Burrowes, head of clients and markets and executive board member at PwC, added that integrating PwC Legal and PwC was “the natural next step".

“PwC Legal has a simple strategy to offer advice that complements services provided by PwC. By fully integrating PwC Legal into the rest of our business we are better placed to meet increasing client demand for more holistic advice.

“The ability to embed legal advice more fully into our advisory services allows us to better help our clients solve their complex challenges and problems, particularly as the UK heads towards the unchartered territory of Brexit.”

Shirley Brookes, senior partner at PwC Legal, added, "The integration into PwC is the logical step given the shared aim of both firms to deliver high quality, high value services to clients through strong relationships.”

Sinead Moore


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