UK to abolish law firm ownership curbs

Author: | Published: 1 Dec 2005

Proposals by the UK government, announced in October, will make the £19 billion ($33 billion) England and Wales legal sector one of the world's least restricted. The reforms would implement recommendations made by a review led by former Bank of England deputy David Clementi in December 2004. But the measures contained in the white paper have gone further than expected.

If the proposals are adopted, non-lawyers will be able to invest in, or own, UK law firms, subject to a fit-to-operate test. Firms will also be able to make non-lawyer employees equity partners for the first time.

The reforms are an attempt to make the UK legal market more competitive and the focus is primarily on the high street end of the profession. But the reforms also recognize that the size of business at the top end of the market, with firms generating hundreds of millions of pounds in...