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SPG drops plans for postal ballot on ABSs

24 March 2011

The Sole Practitioners Group has dropped plans for a postal ballot of the profession on the question of whether the SRA should regulate ABS firms.

The decision, taken by the SPG late this afternoon, removes the last hurdle to full participation in the ABS firms by solicitors. The SRA’s application to act as regulator will be sent to the Legal Services Board in the next few days, where it is expected to be approved.

The only other licensing body when the first ABSs open for business in October this year is due to be the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

The SPG’s decision follows a vote by the society’s ruling council yesterday, which backed the SRA’s application to become an ABS regulator by 54 votes to 16.

Clive Sutton, honorary secretary of the SPG, who has led the campaign against ABSs, said the organisation remained opposed in principle to the new form of legal business.

“ABS remains a live issue and we continue to be opposed to it,” Sutton said. “We will keep this under review. If our members become more concerned about it, we will consider requesting a special general meeting.

“At the moment our members are not as excited about it as they might have been.”

Sutton said the SPG’s executive committee reached the decision by consensus and no vote was taken.

He said committee members were concerned by the cost to the profession, estimated at around £70,000, if a special general meeting called for a postal ballot, as well as the time and effort that the SPG would need to invest.

Sutton said the society’s council had gone “into contortions” to prepare the way for ABS and created “layer and layer of regulation”.

He added: “The whole thing seems completely unnecessary and wrong.”

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