Accountancy firms seeking to be licensed by the CLC to provide Probate services

Accountancy firms can apply to become a CLC Licensed Body under the CLC’s ABS Framework. However, there are some standard minimum operational requirements for all practices and accountancy firms can use the simple questions below to give themselves an indication of whether they would be likely to would meet the CLC’s minimum requirements.  Of course if you would like to discuss that further with us directly please contact Claire Richardson, Deputy Director of Authorisations and New Business, on clairer@clc-uk.org.

Can the CLC regulate my accountancy firm when its not a typical law firm?

Yes, most accountancy firms will be owned and managed by non-lawyers and these sorts of business can be regulated by the CLC as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). Many of CLC regulated firms are ABSs and we have a long history in regulation of these types of practice.  The process is straightforward and we’d encourage accountancy firms to make contact with us at an early stage so that we can discuss the options with them. There are some practical requirements that all firms will need to have, or be willing to put in place, in order for them to meet the requirements set out in the CLC’s ABS Framework.

Interested firms should take a moment to familiarise themselves with the CLC ABS Code and Regulatory Responsibilities of a Licensed Body (ABS), as the these are the arrangements that we will be expecting your business and key personnel to operate within. Of course, once you are a CLC regulated business you will be allocated your own Regulatory Supervision Manager or RSM.

To help you think about whether becoming CLC regulated is right for your firm, we have explained some of our key compliance principles under the three simple headings below:

  1. About the business

As a condition of being licensed the business should:

  • have a registered office in England and Wales;
  • probate services provided within England and Wales;
  • have in place professional indemnity insurance (PII) to indemnify it for any civil liability incurred arising out of regulated services provided. Business must obtain Professional Indemnity Insurance from an Insurer that has signed up to the CLC’s Participating Insurers Agreement and be valid each year from 01 July to 30 June. Details of Insurers and background documents can be found here.

2. About the key personnel

As a condition of being licensed the business should:

  • employ an appropriately qualified and skilled individual, such as a CLC Licensed Probate Practitioner, a Solicitor, or a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (FCILEX), who is Authorised under the Legal Services Act 2007 to supervise the probate work and be appointed as the HoLP.
  • Employ an appropriately qualified and skilled individual to supervise the office and client account and be appointed as the HoFA.

Details of the threshold level of experience for appointees

be prepared for the HoLP, HoFA and any owners and officers of the business to complete standard suitability checks, including identity, FCA and criminality checks.

3. About the legal services

From the outset it’s important that there is clear definition of the legal services that the business intends for the CLC to regulate. Most often when considering granting a Probate licence the CLC considers the standard limit of the licence permission to include the below after death services (including all reserved and non-reserved work).

  • Obtaining the Grant of Probate or a grant of letters of administration
  • The administration of the Estate

Of course, businesses have the option to expand the Probate licence permission to include bundles of non-reserved work that are often form part of the before death legal services, such as

  • Will writing
  • Estate Planning
  • Tax Planning
  • Trust work
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Court of Protection Services (i.e. the administration assisting an individual to make an application)

The important principles to bear in mind are that:

  • the business has appropriately qualified and skilled individuals supervising the totality of these services;
  • the services provided are billed for from the office account regulated by the CLC and all client monies are accounted for in the client account regulated by the CLC;
  • the income granted from the services listed under the CLC licence permission is declared to (a) the CLC PII broker and (b) the CLC annual for the purpose of calculating premiums and annual licence fees and contributions respectively; and perhaps most importantly; and
  • service information is displayed to the public in a way that is transparent and which enables them to easily identify those services provided by the business that are covered by the protections afforded by CLC regulation.

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