Wednesday 22 August 2012 by Catherine Baksi
City-backed Parabis Law has become the first firm owned by private equity to be licensed as an alternative business structure (ABS). The announcement today brings to 20 the number of ABS applications to be cleared by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The Parabis Group is a legal and claims management company employing more than 1,000 people and with a turnover of £108m in 2011-12. In February this year it announced the sale of a 'significant share' to a private equity firm, Duke Street, in a deal valued at between £150m and £200m. It had already applied for ABS status. Duke Street, based in London and Paris, was founded in 1988 as Hambro European Ventures and bought out in 1998.
Parabis chief executive Tim Oliver said he was excited about the possibilities opened to the firm by its new status. He expressed frustration at the length of time the application process took, but said he was pleased with its 'robustness'.
He said: 'We look to the SRA as our regulator to ensure legal services are delivered in a safe way by good quality professional organisations and for the protection of the public. The ABS licensing process has given us great confidence that the SRA is fully committed to discharging that obligation.'
SRA executive director Samantha Barrass said that licensing ABSs provides the opportunity to 'stimulate competition, innovation, and choice for consumers of legal services' adding that Parabis Law is a 'good example' of the type of innovation that the liberalisation of the legal services market has enabled.