Tesco law

A phrase which was originally used in the newspapers to describe the planned move by the government to bring the law into the high street.

The phrase is now more widely used by the legal fraternity as well as the national press to describe the government's plans to bring the law into the High Street.

An article as far back as July 2003 refers to 'Tesco law' when discussing a plan for legal reform which could see Supermarkets competing with solicitors.

The government favoured "one-stop" shops — with solicitors, accountants and other advisers under one roof — and wanted big corporations to be allowed to offer legal services.

But the review, launched at that time and led by David Clementi, the chairman of Prudential,was asked to suggest first how the new businesses should be regulated to protect customers.

As a first step Lord Falconer announced that banks, building societies and insurance companies will be allowed to compete with solicitors in offering probate services -winding up estates after death.

Now, some eight years on it seems we are getting nearer to this idea.

On Thursday (24th March 2011) The Law Society decided that the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society of England and Wales, should apply to regulate alternative business structures as well. The decisions was not without reservations and it seems there may be a special general meeting of the Law Society followed by a poll of solicitors regarding their support for ABS'S.

Now commonly referred to as Tesco law, ABS's should mean a relaxation of the ownership restrictions that currently exist on law firms. The Law Society is concerned that, should commercial interests play too large a role, the independence of the legal profession could be harmed.

The aim will be to introduce healthy competition and a few well known High Street names have already expressed their interest. Amongst these are the Co-Op, AA, Saga and the Halifax. Some of these names are already offering some form of advice service and there are activities which do not, by law, have to be handled by qualified lawyers.






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