The Legal Services Board has approved the Bar Standards Board’s application to license alternative business structures (ABS).

The decision came 11 months after the application was submitted. The BSB intends to begin its ABS application process from October 2016, but that cannot happen until the designation has been approved by the Lord Chancellor and the necessary legislation put in place.

BSB-licensed ABSs will allow lawyers and non-lawyers jointly to own and manage businesses that provide reserved legal activities.

The BSB intends to license advocacy-focused ABSs whose activities are broadly similar to those of self-employed barristers.

Welcoming the announcement, BSB director of supervision, Oliver Hanmer, said: ‘It is testament to our desire to encourage innovation and competition and to improve access to justice within the legal services market.’