A debt collection agency in the north of England has launched an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) to handle disputes in-house after business customers demanded “seamless cradle-to-grave service”.
Sheffield-based Credit Style, which offers a range of debt-related services, claimed on its website to have undertaken 1.65 million debt collection activities to date, after 10 years in business.
Credit Style Limited obtained the ABS license from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in early September.
The head of legal practice and director of legal services is attorney Jackie McGuirk, who was admitted in 1988. The head of finance and administration is director of operations Richard Martin.
Mr. Martin said Legal futures ABS aimed “to continue the service we already provide but doing so from our internal resources rather than through partnerships with law firms”.
Until it was integrated, the firm’s litigation was handled by the 31-partner law firm HLW Keeble Hawson, which has offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster.
He said there was ‘quite a high demand for debt disputes’, adding: ‘We have a lot of customers who see this as part of their credit management policies and they want to know they can having a seamless, cost-effective approach…rather than having to jump from company to company and having delays and disruptions in the process, so to speak.
“That’s what we set out to accomplish – a complete cradle-to-grave process that uses every tool available.”
He said Ms McGuirk was currently the only lawyer, but “we currently have a number of graduates undergoing further education and training, so we should have a number of qualified people in the not too distant future”.
The firm’s website indicates that in addition to having a lawyer on site, the firm has a number of legal executives. All money claims are issued through the County Court Bulk Center in Northampton.
Mr Martin said he was confident Credit Style’s ABS would “grow organically” given client demand.
He would consider making it available to external clients, including other collection agencies: “It’s not part of the current strategy, but I see the synergy and it’s something we would always be open to discussing. . »
He said the SRA application process had been made easier because the company had in the past obtained a consumer credit license from the Financial Conduct Authority, which meant “we have already invested quite heavily in regulation and compliance and there are good…similarities between that and the SRA requirement”.