The Law Society and the Bar Council again hosted around 60 international bar leaders and their guests for the ceremonies in conjunction with the Opening of the Legal Year (OLY) on 1 October. On the preceding day a well-attended seminar was held at the Bar Council, with input from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board, which examined the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 and looked at the latest developments in other jurisdictions.

There remain significant concerns about the possible introduction of Alternative Business Structures and key jurisdictions in Europe do not see the need to follow the changes to the regulatory system contained in the Act. Nevertheless, some elements of the changes in England & Wales have been crossing the channel, with the introduction of a consumer panel to advise the Dutch Bar, following a review of its regulatory structure last year. A particular question mark remains about the ability of ABS vehicles to practice in other EU Member States where such structures are not permitted domestically. It will be interesting to see how the review of the legal services regulations in France, launched ostensibly with the aim to introduce ABSs, will influence the debate. The seminar was a valuable exchange of news and views and is establishing itself as a regular feature in the OLY diary.