ABS – WHO IS IN CHARGE?
The Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board in England has announced that the first ABS should be open for business in 2011. The Chief Executive is a manager and not a solicitor and he is quoted as follows “our intention is to move as quickly as we can, consistent with ensuring the safeguards are there for the public. In the past people have spoken about the first ABS firms being approved the back end of 2012/2013. We would hope to be able to move significantly quicker than that. If we are as late as 2012, I would be really quite disappointed.” He went on to say that an awful lot of thinking still needs to be done over the detail of governance and standards, but argued that the need for action over ABS is greater in the current climate and he went on to say “it is important, subject to the right protections being there, that you remove restrictions to see what can work, …” It would appear therefore that we are in a hurry for ABS but (a) we do not yet know how these shall be governed and (b) we do not yet know what can work.
This is certainly an interesting basis on which to restructure the legal profession. Mr Kenny would appear to be an important driver in this process and, interestingly again, he is not a solicitor. One strange fact that emerged from the recent collapse of the private banking industry was that a large number of the chiefs in that industry had been drafted in from other areas and did not themselves have previous banking experience. It will be interesting to find out whether non lawyers can do as much for the legal profession as non bankers did for the banking profession (Law Society Gazette 19th March 2009).