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Shared legal service moves to shut its ABS as appetite for outsourcing in local government wanes

HB Public Law has given notice of its intention to dissolve its alternative business structure (ABS) following the move in the local government sector away from outsourcing.

The ABS, HB Public Law Limited, was granted a licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2014 and started trading the following year.

It was set up so that the shared legal service could continue to carry out legal work for outsourced clients that it would otherwise have been prevented from undertaking by the SRA’s professional conduct rules.

Commenting on the closure of the ABS, Hugh Peart, Director of Law and Governance at Harrow Council, said that the shared legal service was in “rude health” supporting Harrow, Barnet, Hounslow and Slough Councils.

Adding that “the income of the ABS no longer justified the running costs”, Peart said: “Fundamentally there was a sense back then (when the ABS was set up), that outsourcing was the direction of travel in local government…whether it was waste, IT, libraries or other services.”

The application to strike the company off the register was made in October 2020.

HB Public Law was set up as a shared legal service in September 2012 with the merger of Harrow and Barnet’s legal departments.

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