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Setting up an Alternative Business Structure (ABS)

What is an ABS?

An ABS is a practice (partnership, limited liability partnership or a company) of which is partly or wholly owned by non-authorised persons. Provided that one manager, the Head of Legal Practice (HoLP), is an authorised person (either holding a current CLC licence with a manager designation or is an authorised person who has been granted manager authorisation from the CLC).

A manager is:

  1. if the body is a limited company, a director of the body listed on Companies House;
  2. if the body is a partnership, a person held out as a partner who may be an equity or salaried partner e.g. listed as a partner on the firm’s headed paper;
  3. if the body is a Limited Liability Partnership, an LLP member listed on Companies House;
  4. Sole Practitioner.

Who can apply?

The practice applying to the CLC can be a partnership, limited liability partnership or a company and must have the following:

  • A practising address in England (or Wales);
  • A designated Head of Legal Practice (HoLP) who is an Authorised Person in relation to Reserved Legal Activities;
  • A Head of Finance and Administration (HoFA);
  • The HoLP and HoFA must be listed as directors on Companies House.

How to apply

If you are interested in setting up an ABS practice regulated by the CLC, please email our licensing department on with your expression of interest. Our licensing team will then arrange an introductory phone call and any follow up meeting that will take place in person before you complete any documentation.

ABS Licensing Framework
Take a look at the ABS Licensing Framework.

ABS Register
View the ABS Register.

Guidance For CLC Practice Applicants
It is essential you take a look at the CLC’s guidance for practice applicants.

You may want to familiarise yourself with the CLC’s current and past consultations, as well as the CLC’s response to external consultations.