Statement by the Council of The Bar of Ireland Regarding the Legal Services Regulation Bill

27 November 2015

 

27th November 2015 - In response to the query submitted by the Sunday Times on 26 November 2015, the Council of the Bar of Ireland responds as follows:

 

The Council of The Bar of Ireland considered that the original provisions of the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 (which would have required the Council to permit barristers who became members of multi-disciplinary partnerships or legal partnerships to become or to remain members of the Law Library) was unconstitutional and contrary to competition law. The Council obtained independent legal advice on those issues which supported our views. It appears from the memorandum for Cabinet that was reported in the media last week (if the reporting is accurate) that the Attorney General was of the same view and provided advice along those lines to Minister Fitzgerald and the Government.

 

The Council of the Bar of Ireland welcomes the certainty that will hopefully finally be provided by the imminent enactment of the Bill following many years of discussion and debate on its provisions since the Bill was first published in October 2011. When enacted the Bill will introduce major and far reaching reforms of the legal profession, including the Bar. The Council of the Bar of Ireland will lose its regulatory role in relation to barristers to the new statutory regulatory authority to be established. The new statutory disciplinary provisions and the costs provisions in the Bill when enacted will bring greater transparency and greater public confidence in those areas.

 

However, the Council does retain concerns in relation to aspects of the Bill. Inthe interest of both clients and the profession, clarification is needed on the potential costs involved in the operation of the proposed Legal Services Regulation Authority (LRSA) and the levy payable in respect of the expenses of the LSRA and the new disciplinary tribunals. In addition, the manner in which the levy applies (as set out in Part 7 of current Bill) is, we believe, unfair and imposes a disproportionate burden on barristers and, ultimately, on their clients. Notwithstanding the broad support from the Council of the Bar of Ireland for the reform process, these are practical considerations that must be addressed.

ENDS.

 

19th November 2015 – After a lengthy period of discussion and debate since it was first published in October 2011 the Council of The Bar of Ireland welcomes the certainty that will hopefully finally be provided by the imminent enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Bill. The Council will lose its regulatory role in relation to barristers to the new statutory regulatory authority to be established. The new statutory disciplinary provisions and the costs provisions in the Bill when enacted will bring greater transparency in those areas.

 

However, the Council does retain concerns in relation to aspects of the Bill.

 

In the interest of both clients and the profession clarification is needed on the potential costs involved in the operation of the Legal Services Regulation Authority (LRSA) and the levy payable in respect of the expenses of the LSRA and the new disciplinary tribunals. In addition, the manner in which the levy applies (as set out in Part 7 of current Bill) is, we believe, unfair and imposes a disproportionate burden on barristers and, ultimately, on their clients.

 

Notwithstanding our broad support for the reform process, these are practical considerations that must be addressed.

 

ENDS