Irwin Mitchell announces today that it has become one of the first companies to be approved as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and the first to be granted multiple ABS licences. The  national law firm was among the first applicants for ABS status when the SRA began taking applications in the first week of January and has today been granted five licences by the regulator covering a range of businesses within its group structure.

The SRA has also approved the appointments of Glyn Barker, the former Vice-Chairman UK of PricewaterhouseCoopers, as Chairman of Irwin Mitchell’s parent company, IMCO Holdings Ltd, with immediate effect and Mel Egglenton as a second Non-Executive Director and Chair of the company’s Audit Committee, a role he previously held with accountants KPMG.

Group Chief Executive, John Pickering, today said the announcement was a ‘major step forward’, adding that the firm had achieved its first objective in receiving its licences for the group and would now drive forward with its growth plans in the coming months.

The five licences granted to Irwin Mitchell cover businesses operating separately within the firm’s group structure, including Irwin Mitchell LLP; Ascent Collections Ltd which offers field agency and debt collection services; and Coris UK Ltd, which offers international assistance and insurance claims handling services. Further licences have been granted to Irwin Mitchell Trustees Ltd, which accepts appointments as a trustee, executor and estate administrators; and also to Irwin Mitchell Trust Corporation Ltd, which accepts appointments to act as Deputy from the Court of Protection.

John Pickering said today’s news demonstrated Irwin Mitchell’s continued determination to be at the forefront of change in the legal sector, adding: “This is a major step forward for Irwin Mitchell as a group and we are delighted that we have received the licences for which we applied. It’s a very significant day for us, an important milestone which positions us well to take advantage of the opportunities which we think will arise from the changing legal landscape. We can now push on with our plans for growing the business. Conversion to ABS status sends a clear signal that we intend to move forward with our strategy. We are also pleased to be the first multi-licensed ABS, which reflects the breadth of our offering to clients. Our group structure has been built with that strength of diversity in mind and we believe it puts us in a very strong position in the changing legal sector.”

• Irwin Mitchell recently reported a 6.8% increase in turnover to £183.7m for the financial year 2011/12.