UK accountants consider entering legal services
Over 20 UK accountancy firms have indicated an interest to their regulator in being given ABS (Alternative Business Structure) status.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales told the Financial Times that between 20 and 25 had 'expressed an interest'. By going down the ABS route, organisations such as supermarket chains, are able to offer legal services to the public. At the moment, however, the accountancy firms seem more interested in using the ABS licence to get on a level playing field with lawyers rather than offering legal services to the public. Through the ABS status, the tax wings of the accountancy firms would have more secrecy over tax matters as they would then achieve the legal privilege which is currently reserved for lawyers. Three of the Big Four are considering the move - KPMG, PWC and EY. Some of the international firms did set up legal wings a decade or so ago but this expansion was not seen as a success and was largely discontinued.