Following a shake-up of legal services, restrictions on where legal products may be sold have been removed, with three firms already being handed licenses to operate as Alternative Business Structures (ABSs).

Under the “Tesco Law” legal services can be offered alongside businesses, including banks, supermarkets and High Street stores; whilst the new system will also allow solicitors to seek external investment in new ways.

Jonathan Djanogly, the Justice Minister, said of the new system: “This is a huge milestone for UK legal services and the future of Alternative Business Structures.

“ABSs introduce more competition in the market place, delivering competitive pricing, higher standards of product and more choice for the consumer.

“Our UK legal services are unrivalled around the world and these changes will allow them to reach new heights, as solicitors’ firms develop new markets, seek external investment and join up with other businesses to offer different products to consumers and provide opportunities for growth.”

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), who alongside the Ministry of Justice, will be issuing the licences, began accepting applications for ABSs at the start of the year; and following an initial interest from almost 180 organisations, have already awarded three licenses with sixty more stage two applications still to process.

SRA’s chief executive, Antony Townsend along with Jonathan Djanogly, has welcomed the reform, saying: “The arrival of ABS should foster a more flexible and innovative market for legal services.

“By stimulating competition and encouraging innovation, we should see consumers’ experiences enjoy a major boost.”