Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Legal Services Regulatory Authority: Motion
We will now commence consideration of the motion referred by the Dáil on 27 September 2016 and the Seanad on 29 September 2016 regarding the appointment of Eileen Barrington SC, to be a member of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority.
The resolution for consideration today is a key step towards completing the nomination and appointment of the members of the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority, which is being established under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 by way of structural reform to the legal services sector and by way of enhancing legal costs transparency and an independent complaints system for the legal profession. This is a very important step forward.
The authority, whose members are nominated by the ten prescribed nominating bodies set out in the 2015 Act, is intended to represent a balance of interests between legal practitioners and those consumers who avail of their services. It has a lay majority and a lay chairperson, with consumer interests, legal aid representatives and others on the body. On behalf of the Government, I seek the approval by resolution of the Houses of Eileen Barrington SC for appointment as a member of the new authority.
I must come back to the committee on this because her nomination arises from the fact the initially approved candidate put forward by the Honorable Society of King's Inns is no longer available. The initial candidate was one of the 11 candidates approved for appointment to the new regulatory authority by resolution in the House, and because of the change I must come back and ask the House to approve it once again. The other ten candidates already approved by the House remain in place. We agreed to appoint these ten people, and the Government did so on 27 September. They were approved in July and at a Cabinet meeting on 27 September we agreed to appoint the ten remaining candidates as members of the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority and Dr. Don Thornhill as the chairperson of the new regulatory authority. It was also agreed at that time that following the relevant procedures, which we have now followed and are coming to the committee to ensure the Dáil and Seanad can support it, Eileen Barrington SC will be put forward as the new and alternative King's Inns nominee. This is our consideration of the matter today. If this is forthcoming, the one remaining nominee for membership will complete the 11 person configuration of the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority. I commend today's resolution for the committee's agreement.