Thrings to ringfence personal injury arm in separate ABS

Bath-headquartered Thrings is seeking to separate its personal injury (PI) business as an ABS but is mulling going down the independent body route first to avoid what it sees as an application “bottleneck” at the SRA.

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Thomas Sheppard

Thrings managing partner Thomas Sheppard told The Lawyer that he was talking to a number of equity providers about investing in the firm’s PI business, which it wants to spin off as an ABS. Thrings’ PI business accounts for between 10 and 15 per cent of the firm’s £21m turnover and comprises some 20 lawyers.

“Personal injury is a very different animal from general practice and so can be managed in a different way,” said Sheppard.

But Sheppard added that the firm was concerned about the percieved “bottleneck the SRA has created with the applications” for ABS licences. One avenue the firm is now exploring is to first incorporate the PI business and then later apply to the SRA to become an ABS.

“We may go through the recognised body route first,” added Sheppard. “We understand that you can give details [to the SRA for an ABS application] and find out six months later that it won’t be approved. It’s impossible to find someone interested in investing [in your business] and then ask them to wait six to 12 months to find out whether they can do it or not.”

A spokesperson for the SRA commented: “We encourage potential ABS applicants to get in touch with us first to discuss the process to get a good idea of the things we will be requiring from them.”