Seanad debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011: Report Stage (Resumed)

 

2:30 pm

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister to the House.

Government amendment No. 42:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 43:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 44 to 48, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 44:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Senators will recall that we inserted a new Part into the Bill relating to the powers of the authority to inspect premises and dwellings. The amendments in this group make some minor adjustments to these powers.

Amendment No. 44 has been tabled on the advice of the Attorney General to ensure that an inspector may use reasonable force to enter a place in the exercise of his or her functions under this section. Amendment No. 45 involves the insertion of the word "deletes" into the phrase "destroys, defaces or conceals." The intention is to ensure that a person who deletes or otherwise tampers with evidence is committing an offence and is subject to the penalties outlined in the section. This is needed in particular for material held on a computer.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Can the Minister give a definition of "reasonable force"? One sees on television all the time drug enforcement people, particularly in the United Kingdom, using battering rams to whack down the doors of private houses. I assume this practice is not entirely unknown in this jurisdiction. How much physical force is regarded as appropriate or legal?

I would have thought the word "destroys" would also cover "deletes," but I presume this is a nod in the direction of the computerised world in which, so regrettably, we are forced to live.

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)
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Senator Norris rightly raises a point on reasonable force. The issue has occupied or exercised the courts. It is a phrase that is well used throughout criminal justice legislation in respect of offences and the powers of the Garda. There is well established jurisprudence on how it is defined. It is determined on a case-by-case basis in terms of what is reasonable in the circumstances. I do not believe a more specific definition could or should be placed in legislation.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The work we have done on this section strengthens the provisions in the original Bill. It is based on the legislation concerning search warrants and money laundering.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 45:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 46:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 47:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 48:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 49 has already been discussed with amendment No. 4.

Government amendment No. 49:

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I wish to ask a question out of curiosity. The difference seems to be simply that one phrase is in italics. Is there any legal force to a phrase being in italics?

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)
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There is a difference, because the amendment changes the reference from the Solicitors Acts up to 2013 to the Solicitors Acts up to 2015. It is not a question of italics but the difference in year.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Then why the italics? Why is it different?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is in italics in the first Bill.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I see. Therefore, it is following the Bill it is amending. Is that correct?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 50:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This is to deal with something in the original Bill, but there is a different situation now. It deletes the provisions relating to the ability of the authority to make regulations about interest on client moneys. This is being done to reflect the fact that the Law Society of Ireland will perform this role as part of its retained functions for the financial and compensation fund spheres. Until such time as barristers can hold client money, the authority will not need to exercise this power in its own right. This power is not relevant or necessary for the functioning of the new authority at this point. Obviously, regulations in this area made by the Law Society will be subject to approval by the new regulatory authority.

I discussed this question at the beginning of Committee Stage. I made the point that we do not want the Government to be liable for any of these issues. A clear decision was made by the previous Minister in respect of the complex issues relating to the compensation fund. The fund has been handled by solicitors up to now, and it will continue to be handled by them.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is quite a big move because it involves the deletion of an entire section dealing with the requirement for a legal practitioner to hold separate accounts and so on. I am not going to fight this because it is obviously a hopeless battle, and we battled the other day. Indeed, I was glad to see that reflected in a report on "The Week in Politics." It was rather gratifying to see the Seanad included in the discussions on a major Act.

Can the Minister comment on whether this is one of the areas in which the Bar Council of Ireland exerted pressure on the Department to alter matters? That is concerning. The former Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter, a worthy predecessor to the current Minister, had an article in The Irish Timesin which he said that 85% of the Bill that he had envisaged has gone through, but 15% did not, and he very much regretted that. It very much seems as though the Bar Council has exerted considerable pressure and has had a considerable impact on this legislation. I know the Minister will be required politically to massage this, but it is a fact.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I beg Senator Conway's pardon.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Norris without interruption.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I am getting a little hard of hearing, so I wish those who wish to interrupt - something I always welcome - would take note of my hard-of-hearing status at the moment and shout out the interruptions. I would be grateful for that. I always enjoy them. Perhaps I can come back to that. That is all I wanted to say. I am interested to know whether this is one of the areas in which the Bar Council exerted pressure on the Government to alter the Bill. Can the Minister give me a reading on this?I do not normally wait but I will on this occasion because I am going to ask a question, if that is all right with the Cathaoirleach.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Does the Senator mean on other sections or other amendments?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No. I would just like to ask if there is a substitution involved here? Do we have another form of words to cover this or is it a simple deletion, getting rid of it and that is it? If it is just a deletion, it is a little worrying because it governs the idea of opening and maintaining a separate deposit account for the benefit of the client for the holding of money received from the client. Accountability for clients' money is very important. I know we have distinguished leaders of the Bar here at the moment. This is one of the areas where there are always rows and always trouble and it is an area where, regrettably, there is sometimes fraud in the legal profession, so one would need to keep an eye on this if this entire section is going to be got rid of. It is about 50 lines, which is not an insignificant amount. It looks after the safeguarding and the well-being of a client's money. I would be interested in what the Minister has to say to reassure the House that the interests of the client are still very much being protected. I see the Minister nodding. I am sure she can be satisfied on this issue. Is this the result of Bar Council lobbying and is there a substitution?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This is a decision that was taken before I took over dealing with the Bill. The decision on the compensation fund was taken by the previous Minister and he took that decision for very good reasons. When the Bill was published originally, some of the detail of the work had clearly not been done. I have had a huge amount of detailed work to do in regard to the filling out of the various provisions of the Bill. The majority of the amendments I have tabled today have to do with the fact we now have an independent inspection and disciplinary oversight from the regulatory authority, and they also deal with the transitional issues, with the new disciplinary tribunal body and with various other issues on which none of the detailed work had been done. That is what I have been doing primarily.

In regard to the point raised by the Senator, this is not about the Bar Council but about the Law Society. It is about the compensation because barristers do not hold clients' moneys at present. The decision was taken that the compensation fund, in all its complexity, which has been handled by the Law Society for many decades would continue to be handled by the Law Society and that the State would not be liable in any way for that type of compensation should it arise. What we are doing is protective of the State. The key point is that the legal services regulatory authority, LSRA, still has complete oversight. There is a new independent regulatory authority which has oversight. There is also provision for people to sit on the committee. I will deal with that section later. This was a decision that was taken at an earlier point in the development of the Bill. I think it is an appropriate decision. If one were to move the compensation fund with all its complexities, involvement and management, one would be talking about a different sort of body. We are talking about an oversight body that has approximately 40 staff. If one were to move everything that is currently handled by the Law Society and the Bar Council, one would be talking about a different body taking over all that detailed work and the liability issues that arise. The purpose of section 50 is to take out what was in the original published Bill. However, there has been a journey in relation to it since. The reason it is being left with the Law Society is well founded. There is still the independent regulation in terms of financial activities, standards and monitoring of the various complex issues that can arise in regard to compensation.

In regard to the Senator's point about the Bar Council and comments that have been made about it, I have explained that I was given very strong advice on this issue and the constitutional difficulties that would arise due to forcing membership on a particular body. That is the reality of the advice I was given and the Government has decided it wants to see the legal services regulatory authority established rather than being tied up in potential constitutional issues that would undermine the whole legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 51 to 55, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 51:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This is the section where I accept the amendment proposed by Senator Sean D. Barrett to change the language from "may" to "shall" in regard to the new regulatory authority's discretion to make regulations requiring legal practitioners to main professional indemnity insurance. That is in amendment No. 54. Government amendment No. 51 makes additional provision to the section. It does this to make clear that all configurations of a legal partnership between barristers or solicitors must be compliant with the Bill and have the requisite professional indemnity insurance in place. The amendment arises because it is necessary to cater separately for legal partnerships which consist of solicitors and barristers and those which contain barristers only. We are accepting the Senator's amendment.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I welcome the Minister to the House and thank her for accepting my amendment No. 54. We have compulsory insurance to drive a car. I agree with the Minister that indemnity insurance in this case seems eminently sensible. That is the reason for the word "shall". The new authority should draw up the regulations to implement that. Again, I thank the Minister.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I also welcome the acceptance of Senator Barrett's amendment because the word "may" is far too weak. This is a question about legal professional indemnity and without that the client might be exposed to damage. That is very good and I am glad the Minister has accepted that.

With regard to amendment No. 51, this is window dressing because I do not see much prospect of partnerships between solicitors and barristers because, as I understand it - perhaps I am wrong and the Minister will correct me if I am - if a barrister enters into an agreement for a legal practice of some kind with a solicitor, he or she will be exiled from the Bar Library and that is quite a severe penalty. To include things that speculate about practices where solicitors and barristers will happily combine together in a legal practice is to a certain extent a bit of pie in the sky if they are going to be subject to this sanction from the Bar Council. If this is correct, and I am speaking from memory of newspaper articles, it is a rather nasty form of bullying that the Bar Council should seek to disadvantage a member of its profession who sets up a professional relationship with a solicitor.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The Bill provides for legal partnerships. That is the reality. The Bill also has a strong section providing that no professional body can take any action that would interfere with the setting up of a partnership and cannot do anything that would be considered to be an interference with the setting up of such a practice. There are 100 barristers operating outside of the Bar Council. There is also a provision in the Bill to provide that if a barrister is employed by a charity NGO, a homeless group or by any of the advocacy groups, that person can represent those bodies in court. All these are new provisions aimed at giving people opportunities to be involved in different ways. All that is in the Bill. I have mentioned the constitutional advice I received about the Bar Council.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Will the Minister confirm the potential exiling of barristers from the Law Library? Is that a fact or a possibility that might happen?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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That is a description used by the Senator.The Bill provides a situation where no professional body can take action that would be seen to interfere with the setting up of a partnership. The Bar Council has its rules and I have taken constitutional advice regarding forcing membership onto the Bar Council.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 52:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 53:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I move amendment No. 54:

In page 39, line 26, to delete “may” and substitute “shall”.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I second the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 55:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 56:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 57:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 58:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 59:

Government amendment No. 60:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 61:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This series of amendments Nos. 61 to 65 are taken separately and are relevant to the numbering of the various paragraphs and subsections.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 62:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 63:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 64:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 65:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendment Nos. 66 to 72, inclusive, and Nos. 78, 83, 84, 85,104,106,108,111,114,117 and 215 are related and may be discussed together by agreement, is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 66:

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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What will be the effect of inserting "the opinion of the Law Society"? There are 105 amendments on pages 8 to 28 of the amendments list which all relate to page 41 of the Bill. This is confusing.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I presume I can speak after the Minister?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Norris can speak only once.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I can speak once, just after the Minister has spoken?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Senator must speak before the Minister.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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There should be a fair amount of latitude in these matters when there are so many amendments scattered throughout the Bill and one has to root around looking to find them. I would like to know what the opinion of the Law Society was on this matter that has been so persuasive with the Minister. Page 41 of the Bill is amended on a spectacular number of occasions. Some are just technical amendments. According to my colleague, Senator Barrett, page 41 of the Bill is amended 105 times. That is absolutely astonishing. It is no wonder we are at sea; at least I am at sea, I am not suggesting the Minister is at sea.

If a Member has not spoken then it would be no harm, even on Report Stage, for a Member seeking to be informed by the Minister's contribution to be allowed to speak after the Minister - if he or she reserves the position and decides to not speak until after the Minister and taking into account that the Member can still only speak once. It would seem good parliamentary practice to allow a Member who decides to hold his or her fire, to make use of the information the Minister has contributed to the House in making an informed comment, especially when there are so many amendments joined together by leave of the House.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Chair usually facilitates Members to a great degree.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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So the Chair could have allowed me to speak after the Minister? You miserable git.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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These amendments are included to ensure a smooth transition to the new regulatory authority in regard to these issues and for clarity and consistency for the hand-over. Many amendments are improvements in the drafting. There are a lot of improvements in the drafting. The core of the amendments is to make crystal clear that all new complaints will go to the new authority after enactment. The amendments also place a three-year limit on the complaints about inadequate service but there will be no time limit on complaints about professional misconduct by a solicitor or a barrister.

With regard to the point raised by Senator Barrett, the amendment is because they will be dealing with the solicitors' accounts regulations and will have to come to a view in relation to the particular issue. It is they who will come to that view and that is why we have inserted the wording "in the opinion of the Law Society" as they are the people who will be dealing with this, coming to a view as to the irregularity or not. This would always be subject, as the Law Society and the Bar Council will be, to the independent regulation of the legal services regulatory authority.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I ask the Minister if it would have been more sensible to delete the whole of page 41 of the Bill and introduce a new page 41 to save the trouble of dealing with this myriad of amendments.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is a complex Bill and it has had a long run of amendments since it was published. It does engage complex legal and constitutional issues and it covers a very wide span; the inspection, the complaints, the new business models, the new office of the legal costs adjudicator, the charter, and powers for the new authority and the levy which the authority can impose. There has been much involvement and work by the drafters. These amendments are to improve the Bill and to allow for clarity, consistency and a smoother transitional phase. The core rationale is to make it clear that all new complaints will go to the new authority after enactment.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The Minister has not answered my question about whether a new page 41 would be a good idea.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I have not. I am recommending these amendments.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Senator Barrett has yet to speak on amendment No. 66.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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We are on amendment No. 66. It is a group of amendments. The Minister spoke to amendment No. 66. The group is amendments Nos. 66 to 72, inclusive, and 78, 83, 84, 85,104,106,108,111,114,117 and 215. They will be discussed together.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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Amendment No. 66 seeks to insert "the opinion of the Law Society". It refers to page 41, subsection (5)(a). I cannot find subsection (5)(a) in the Bill. I do not know where the opinion of the Law Society is to be inserted.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is to be inserted by amendment No. 52 on Committee Stage.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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So it is not in the version we have, I presume?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It went in on Committee Stage.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I cannot see where the opinion of the Law Society would fit in. Section 42 is quite a short section. It is extremely confusing.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is very confusing. On a point of order, I feel that some of these amendments would be better taken out of the general discussion and discussed separately in order to give us time to reread the Bill and inform ourselves. However, that will not happen.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I discussed that on Committee Stage. I have explained why it would be a decision arrived at by the Law Society. The phrase "the opinion of the Law Society" has been used because it will regulate the solicitors' accounts regulations.

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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I have held my counsel until now. I have listened very closely to the debate. It appears to me that the debate is becoming a little bit shambolic because of the number of amendments to Committee Stage amendments, etc. I am concerned that we and the Government may make some grave mistakes in the Bill because we are amending parts of it that we cannot see in front of us.

I call on the Minister to suspend the debate on the Bill. Committee Stage amendments should be incorporated into a new Bill, which should be published properly so that we can then debate the Report Stage amendments properly and consider them in the context of the amendments the Government wants to make so that it does not make mistakes. Even at this late stage, amendments on Report Stage are still coming into our inboxes. It is an absolute shambles, to be quite honest. I am afraid that we will make a major mistake. Rushing the Bill in this manner is absolutely diabolical.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is amendment No. 66 agreed to?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Will the Minister respond to Senator Ó Clochartaigh?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I have said that it is a complex Bill. These are a series of amendments which are very much drafting improvements. There is no change whatsoever in the policy issue we discussed on Committee Stage. In fact, these are detailed amendments to improve the Bill from a drafting point of view, the drafter having taken a further look at the overall section. As I said, the purpose of the amendments is to provide clarity and consistency.

The key policy point is that there will be independent access. All new complaints will go to the new authority after the enactment of the Bill. This is a major change. In future, all complaints about legal services, rather than going to a committee within the Law Society, which has operated under legislation to date, or the Bar Council, which provided an annual report on its activities, will go to an independent body. I ask Senators to reflect on that key policy point. I appreciate that there are a lot of amendments, but they are to improve the drafting of the Bill, for the purposes of consistency and clarity and to ensure a smooth transition from those committees to the new legal services regulatory authority.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I wish to make a point of order. I sympathise with the Minister's difficulty; this is a complex Bill. It has been rendered more complex by amendments, amendments on Report Stage, proposed amendments and all the rest.

There are 23 pages of amendments to one page of the Bill. That is astonishing. How can 23 pages of amendments be squeezed onto one page? The mind just boggles. It is daft. Surely it would be better to reconstitute the relevant page and leave the original version in the Bill as passed by the Dáil, and present a revised version to Seanad Éireann? That would seem to me to be the sensible thing to do. I cannot get over the fact that there are 23 pages of amendments to one page of the Bill.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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There are asterisks, footnotes and various other things, as the Senator will see when he reads the amendments.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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There are a lot of asterisks in 23 pages.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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An amendment can take up that much room, and there are many technical amendments.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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On a point of order, Members on both sides find the proceedings chaotic, disorientating and very difficult to follow given that we are presented with an unclean text. The Bill we have before us does not contain the Committee Stage amendments that have already been made. Would the Minister be prepared to suspend the debate and produce a copy of the Bill with the Committee Stage amendments included in it in order that we can see where we are? We have just examined an important amendment which adds the words "the opinion of the Law Society" regarding a matter of fact, namely, whether there has been a breach of regulations. It is not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact. We have just allowed a fact to be overwhelmed by an opinion of a professional body, and it is worrying. The Members on this side will not be particularly co-operative and will call a number of votes to reflect the disquiet throughout the House. Although the Government side is inhibited from making these points, in discussions during the division we found there is considerable concern on that side. Every December, Bills are rammed through because we must get them done before Christmas. This is why we are sitting five days next week and the week after. It is not good parliamentary practice and does not treat the Seanad with the respect it is due.

Photo of Averil PowerAveril Power (Independent)
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How could it possibly be in order for us to discuss amendments without having the Bill as passed on Committee Stage? It is very confusing.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is perfectly in order and is a normal procedure, although we probably never had this volume of amendments before.

Photo of Averil PowerAveril Power (Independent)
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Although I have the list of amendments, we are working from the Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann, not the Bill as passed on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Second Stage took place.

Photo of Averil PowerAveril Power (Independent)
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To my knowledge, this is the first time we have been in this situation, even with other rushed legislation.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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A list of the Committee Stage amendments has been made available.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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We do not have a copy of the Bill as amended.

Photo of Averil PowerAveril Power (Independent)
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This is very important legislation.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Although the amendments are not included in the Bill, they are available.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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They should be included in the Bill.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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They never are in the Seanad.

Government amendment No. 67:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 68:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 5.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 69:

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 70:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 71:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 72:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 5.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 73:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 74:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 74 to 77, inclusive, provide simply for the changes in numbering of the sections.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It was not agreed to take them together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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That is right. As there are some extra sections in the Bill, particularly dealing with complaints and disciplinary issues which we inserted in Part 5, there is a change in the numbering of sections. This is simply a change in the numbering.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 5.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 75:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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As I have said, many of the amendments being introduced are technical amendments required because of the change and the new insertions in the Bill. That has led to a renumbering of the amendments. Obviously when one inserts a new section all the numbers on the other sections have to be changed. This is one of a series of amendments reflecting the change to the number of the section we are dealing with. It is normal with any Bill where there are insertions as there was regarding the disciplinary procedures. This has meant there is a change in the section numbers. This amendment changes the numbering of the section.Obviously once one inserts a new section, all the numbers on the other sections have to be changed. This is one of a series of amendments where it is literally just reflecting the change that has been brought about to the number of the section we are dealing with. It is a normal thing that would happen in any Bill one would discuss in the Seanad or Dáil where there are insertions into the Bill, as there was on disciplinary procedures. It has meant that there is a change in the way the sections are numbered and this is a change to the numbering of the section.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I would like to request a little bit of information of a technical nature from the Minister. I accept completely the renumbering and all the rest of it. In the normal course of events we would just let this legislation slide through but we are not prepared to do that at the moment. I seek clarification for myself on the following. I noticed that hash marks were included in the amendment which says: "inserted by amendment 58# .... in accordance with section 49##". In some cases there are up to four or five hash marks inserted. Does a hash mark indicate the number of times an amendment has been amended? What is the purpose of a hash mark in this instance?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The Bills Office put a hash mark in as an aid to Senators following the Bill and there is a reference. That is all that it is in the Bill.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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What does the reference mean?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is a reference to a change.

Photo of Michael ComiskeyMichael Comiskey (Fine Gael)
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A slight new change. It is a rehash.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Yes, that is all.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Why is there one hash sign on some of them, two on another, three on another and four on another?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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They are simply footnotes that reference difference sections. The first hash refers to the first section that is being changed and the second hash refers to the second change. It is just to differentiate the amendments that are being made. The Bills Office did so to make it clearer what was happening with these amendments.

If I could make a point which might be helpful to the discussion about the various changes in the Bill. The Senator commented on the number of amendments in relation to one page. That was a reference point for a large number of amendments that were made by the House on Committee Stage on the subject of complaints. It is a virtual page number to allow for the insertion of the various amendments that had been made but it was not changing any of those amendments. It was literally just providing a place where those amendments were going into the Bill that had been agreed on Committee Stage so it was not actually amendments to one page.

A huge number of the amendments I am bringing in here are to do with the drafters. It was always going to be necessary at this point in the Bill to look at the overall development of the Bill and the kind of changes made and see how it all stood together. Many of the changes in these amendments are genuine, as Senators will see when they look at the amendments. We are not brining in any policy changes. The policy discussion we have had, both on Second Stage and on Committee Stage, is very much the drafters looking over the Bill as a whole. I appreciate that there are many amendments. The drafters have looked over them and effectively made the technical changes and the minor corrections that are needed for the Bill to flow as a whole. I apologise that there are so many of them but it is very much the drafters looking at the Bill as a whole and making the various changes. I accept that it is a complex and large Bill with many amendments. These ones we are discussing at this point are very much the technical ones about the numbering changes where one puts the amendments in and so forth.

I have detailed notes which I am happy to share on some of the other amendments that have to do with inserting monitoring elements, for example, which we will deal with in the Bill at a later stage, and some of the other key points about transitions and the kind of periods of transition we are putting into the Bill when we move from the Bar Council and the Law Society of Ireland to the LSRA. I hope I have been helpful.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Yes. Could I elucidate a little bit more? Am I right in thinking that four hash marks means an amendment has been through four transitional stages?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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No. It just means it is the fourth point referenced. It is the fourth amendment being referenced on a particular page. It is just a note on the fourth. There is just one hash mark for the first one. The Bill Office has done this in terms of being helpful in relation to the Bill.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is not a bit helpful. It is not at all helpful.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is amendment No. 75 agreed to?

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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The amendment reads: "In page 41, in subsection (5) of the section 48 inserted by amendment 58 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to insert “, in accordance with section 49,” after “shall”. In section 48 there are six uses of the word "shall". Therefore, we should have the legislation printed up again incorporating all those amendments because it is very difficult to keep track.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Which "shall" is it?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is amendment No. 75 agreed to?

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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Not agreed.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Marie Moloney and Michael Mullins; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris..

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 76:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Like many subsequent amendments, as there is a new line inserted this is effectively saying that where the authority makes a determination referred to in subsection (4). As one can see from page 22 of the Committee amendments, the Report Stage amendment is literally changing 4(b) to 5(b). Some of these are the result of a new line being inserted and the reference changes. It is one of the many technical changes because there are changes in the composition of the Bill with new sections inserted, there is a change in the reference. Instead of 4(b) it reads 5(b). It is a numerical change reflecting an extra sentence.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 77:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This is a numerical change to the ordering as I have explained. This is another amendment we agreed to take separately. It is the numbering of the sections reflecting the changes.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 78:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 79:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Marie Moloney and Michael Mullins; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 80:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 81:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 82:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 83:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 84:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 85:

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is the amendment agreed to?

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 86:

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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This was discussed with amendment No. 5. Is it agreed?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No. I just want to say-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It has already been discussed.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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All right. We will leave it.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 87:

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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This was discussed with amendment No. 5. Is it agreed?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No. On a point of order, this amendment seems to be redundant. The original line states: "Where the client or the legal practitioner is aggrieved by a direction made by the Authority under subsection (6) or its failure to make such a direction the person aggrieved". It is being changed to "he or she", but that has precisely the same meaning. What is the point in changing it?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is like some of the other amendments in that it is a technical drafting change. That is what I have said about many of these amendments.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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What is the difference between "the person aggrieved" and-----

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is a drafting recommendation to insert "he or she" as opposed to "the person aggrieved".

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Grammatically, it has exactly the same meaning and impact.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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As with the previous two amendments on which we voted, many of these effectively replace "it" with "the matter". In another, we deleted "in this Part". Using this language instead of the other is a straightforward recommendation from the draftsperson to improve the flow of the Bill. Many of the amendments are extremely technical. One could argue about them all.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I am sorry, but they are not technical because they mean exactly the same thing. There is no technical difference between one and the other.

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)
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Why make a big deal out of it then?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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All I can say is that I am advised by the draftspersons who have been working on the Bill that it is a better formulation.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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And the draftsperson is W. Shakespeare, I presume?

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)
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Come on. This is getting-----

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Ridiculous. There is a sense of style going on here. Someone believes that it is worthwhile wasting the time of the Seanad for a matter of style. It is complete nonsense.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 88, 90, 92 to 100, inclusive, 113 and 118 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 88:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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These are mainly refinements to the new section 51 inserted on Committee Stage to deal with the informal resolution of inadequate services. The substantive amendment in this group provides that an appeal of the outcome of a complaint of inadequate services or excessive costs shall be via a review committee to the High Court.

Amendment No. 88 replaces subsection (1). The intention is that the authority will, in every case where the matter at hand relates to inadequate services or where the review committee has remitted a complaint to the authority, invite the parties to seek to resolve the matter by informal means. The subsection removes the requirement that the authority should form an opinion as to whether the matter is suitable for resolution by informal means, which it was felt was too subjective. Amendments Nos. 90 to 101 and 113 to 118 relate to the resolution and review of the complaints sections. The intention behind the amendments now being proposed is to make clear how procedures regarding the resolution of complaints will operate and to better define the role of the review committee. Amendment No. 90 makes a change to one of the options available to the new review committee to be established under section 53 of the Bill, as inserted by amendment No. 63 of the Committee Stage amendments. The option that the review committee had - that is, to find that a complaint was not well founded - is being replaced by an option to remit the complaint to the committee with such direction as the review committee considers appropriate. It provides that a remittance can be for a complaint against either inadequate service or excessive costs.

Amendment No. 92 inserts an important new section into the Bill which will enable a party to appeal to the High Court against a decision of the review committee. Subsection 1 provides that the party, within 21 days of a notification from the review committee, may appeal to the High Court for an order to rescind or vary the determination of the review committee. Subsection 2 makes it clear, however, that if no such appeal is made within the 21 days, the determination of the review committee is absolutely binding on the parties. Subsection 3 gives the authority the right to have an appeal dismissed if it considers that the appeal has only been made to delay the conclusion of the complaint. Subsection 4 provides that a failure by a legal practitioner to comply with the determination of the review committee will constitute an offence under the Act.

Amendment No. 93 proposes a new subsection which makes it clear that where there is an admissible complaint which, if proven, would constitute misconduct, the authority should invite the complainant and legal practitioner to make efforts to resolve the matter promptly and in line with guidelines published by the authority.

Amendment No. 94 proposes to replace section 56, which was inserted on Committee Stage, with a different wording, although the thrust of the section remains the same - that agreement by a legal practitioner to participate in attempts to resolve an issue is not an admission of liability. We had some discussion on this on Committee Stage and I think these amendments were welcomed.

Amendment No. 101 relates to the procedures that the authority must carry out in dealing with complaints. I have decided that there needs to be a clear statement that a complaint about an act or omission which could constitute misconduct, if not resolved by informal means, will be passed to the complaints committee for consideration.

Amendment No. 113 involves the deletion of subsection 14. This is about improving the case management of complaints. Under subsection 14, the divisional committee could refer a case back to the authority to see if it could be resolved by informal means. Having looked at it again, we believe that cases that reach the divisional committee have already been through the process, so we are not referring them back to the authority.

Amendment No. 118 makes it clear that an appeal by a legal practitioner against a determination of a divisional committee will be to the High Court and not to the disciplinary tribunal. The disciplinary tribunal will have a specific function to investigate certain complaints involving alleged misconduct on the part of legal practitioners. I am providing that an appeal by a legal practitioner against a determination made or a direction issued by a divisional committee will be by way of application to the High Court.

We also have a subsection that states that in certain circumstances the authority may also appeal to the High Court against determinations or directions of the divisional committee. The authority may also appeal against a decision by the divisional committee not to refer a complaint to the disciplinary tribunal. Subsections 3 outlines the orders that the High Court may make on receipt of an appeal under this section. Effectively, these are refinements to the resolution of inadequate services. The substantive amendment in this group provides that an appeal on the outcome of a complaint about inadequate services or excessive costs shall be by way of the review committee to the High Court. It outlines the various stages that complaints of inadequate service or excessive costs go through within the body and how the authority becomes involved.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I welcome the Minister's very detailed explanation of these amendments. I am interested, however, in her remark that the view of the authority is too subjective. Despite the fact that the Minister provided for the wording that refers to the view of one of the legal bodies - I cannot remember which - she said before that it was too subjective, yet here it is now popping up. I am sorry; I will clarify that. The Minister put in the wording that refers to the authority forming a view of something, yet now she is saying it is too subjective, so there is a bit of a conflict there.

I welcome the option of appealing to the High Court the determination of the review committee. I think that is a good thing. The Minister referred to the fact that during Second Stage, or during an earlier debate on this Bill, we commended the provision that an apology would not constitute an admission of liability. The tendency of the Bill is to urge the parties towards reconciliation and so on without actually resorting to court procedures, but such recourse to these proceedings to try to reach an accommodation shall not be taken as admission of liability. That is a good thing because it frees up the system and encourages people to take a course of moderation and to try to sort things out without recourse to the law, which can be extremely expensive.

I have a query about one of the amendments, but by and large they are good. They are fairly substantive amendments dealing with big matters that need a certain amount of thought.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I will deal with the point made by Senator Norris in respect of forming an opinion. The authority in this instance would be referring the matter for informal resolution, so we do not want it to prejudge the matter. Thus, we are removing the section that refers to the authority forming an opinion.

I think the Senator is correct about the question of liability. We discussed this in the context of the pre-action protocols for medical negligence as well, where we have provided for a similar wording, so that an apology is not seen as an admission of liability.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 89:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 90:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 91:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 91 is one of the technical changes in relation to the numbering of the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 92:

Amendment agreed to.

Government Amendment No. 93:

Government amendment No. 93:

In page 41, in the section 54 inserted by amendment 64 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete subsection (1) and to insert the following:“(1) Where the Authority decides under section 48 that a complaint under section 42(2)is admissible, and that the act or omission of the legal practitioner to which the complaint relates, if the complaint were substantiated, would constitute misconduct within the meaning of section 41(1)(b), it shall invite the complainant and the legal practitioner concerned to make efforts to resolve the matter the subject of the complaint in a prompt manner in accordance with guidelines published by the Authority pursuant to section 57

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 94:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 95:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 96:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 97:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 98:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 99:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 100:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 101:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 102:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 103:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 104:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 105:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 106:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 107:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 108:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 109:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 110:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 111:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 112:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 113:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 114:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 115:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 116:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 117:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 118:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 119:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 120:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 121:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 122 to 140, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Government amendment No. 122:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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On Committee Stage, we introduced a number of new sections dealing with the establishment and operation of the legal practitioners disciplinary tribunal. This group of amendments relates to those sections and have been tabled to provide greater clarity in respect of the tribunal. Amendment No. 122 is no longer necessary, given that we are repeating the qualifications that were to be expected. There is no need to repeat them here.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Does this mean the Minister is not moving amendment No. 122?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I am moving it.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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If it is not needed, why is the Minister moving it?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I will go into the details. Amendment No. 122 is a drafting amendment to eliminate repetition of qualifications for lay membership of the disciplinary tribunal. The purpose of the amendment is to replace subsection (1) of section 66, which was inserted on Seanad Committee Stage by amendment No. 76. The subsection (1) which was inserted includes subparagraphs (a) and (b). Subparagraph (a) carried over the reference to the requirement for ten years practice which was in the published Bill, and my intention is to retain it. However subparagraph (b) referred to the types of knowledge and expertise which a person must have if he or she is to be appointed a lay chairperson of the disciplinary tribunal. Since these elements of knowledge and expertise are already set down in Section 65(3) of the Bill, inserted on Committee Stage, as requirements for lay membership of the tribunal, there is no need for them to be repeated here. The effect of the amendment proposed is thus to delete subparagraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 66, thereby removing the repetition. I am keeping one part and taking out one other part.

Amendments Nos. 123 and 125 are consequential amendments arising from the substitution of a new section 62 under amendment No. 118. Amendment No. 124 substitutes a new subsection (1) within the section dealing with the property of a limited liability partnership regarding the enforcement against it of any debt, obligation or liability. It is a drafting amendment to ensure that there is no ambiguity as to the access to the property of the partnership to meet the debts of the partnership.

Amendments Nos. 126 to 129, inclusive, 134 and 139 are technical drafting amendments designed to clarify the meaning of the provisions concerned. Amendment No. 130 is a consequential amendment arising from the substitution of the new section 62, which provides for appeals to the High Court. Amendments Nos. 131 and 132 are consequential amendments arising from the deletion of the subsection (8) in amendment No. 130. Amendments Nos. 135 and 136 have been tabled to change the terminology of the sanctions in the Bill and bring them in line with those already in place in the Solicitors Acts.

Amendment No. 137 has been inserted to make it clear that the sanction to be imposed under subsection (1)(l) will apply only where the misconduct consists of a breach of the solicitors accounts regulations. This is in line with the sanctions already in place under the Solicitors Acts. Amendment No. 138 inserts a new sanction into the Bill regarding practising barristers. The amendment allows the disciplinary tribunal to direct the authority to impose restrictions on the practice of a barrister. Amendment No. 133 is a consequential, tidy up amendment arising from amendments Nos. 137 and 138.

Regarding amendment No. 140, the intent behind the new subsections is to ensure that the aggregate amount of fines which can be imposed on a legal practitioner is €15,000 and that the means of the legal practitioner must be taken into account. I have based this on legal advice from the Attorney General. If we do not take a legal practitioner’s means into account, a fine could be open to challenge in the courts.

The amendments relate to the operation of the legal practitioners disciplinary tribunal and will give greater clarity to the work of the tribunal.

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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The Minister mentioned the word "clarity". Everything about the Bill is unclear. It is like asking an artist to paint a picture with a blindfold on. The amendments are all very confusing. The fact that amendment No. 122 is to delete an amendment the Minister made on Committee Stage adds credence to the argument that the farce should be stopped and the Bill suspended until a copy of the Bill with the Committee Stage amendments inserted is supplied in order to give us a better picture of what it looks likes. If the Bill is passed in this manner, it will be full of holes and contradictions and will lead to problems that will require further amendment, perhaps by the next Government. It is ridiculous that the Minister is continuing in this manner.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I agree with the Senator and I said something similar recently. Amendment No. 135 states, "In page 41, in subsection (1)(a) of the section 72 inserted by amendment 82 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete “a reprimand” and substitute “an advice”." It refers to the section which states:

Where, pursuant to the holding of an inquiry under section 71, the Disciplinary Tribunal makes a determination under section 71(9) that there has been misconduct on the part of a legal practitioner and determines that the issue of sanction should be dealt with pursuant to this subsection, the Disciplinary Tribunal may make an order imposing one or more of the following sanctions on the legal practitioner ...

The first option listed is "a reprimand". The amendment will remove this and substitute the term "an advice". What is an advice? It sounds like a very neutral and meaningless term to use. What does it mean to give an advice to somebody? Does one advise a person that he or she is behaving badly? A reprimand is clear. It means a person has done something wrong and is receiving a smack on the wrist.I do not understand why we need to take out the term "reprimand" and put in the term "an advice".

Further down, the reverse of that is included in subsection (c), where the term "caution" is to be removed and the term "essential" inserted. Something that is mild is to be removed and replaced with something that is fairly strong. It looks to me as if the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Subsection (a) removes a lot of the point and neutralises it, but in subsection (c) the big guns are brought in.

I agree with Senator Ó Clochartaigh. I wish to God that somebody would give instruction in plain English. During the debate on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill, I referred to a group of people with mental disabilities. They said one of the things they wanted was for legislation to be written in a way that they could understand. I am not sure it is completely beyond the wit of man to make things more comprehensible. Amendment No. 138 states, "[W]here the legal practitioner is a practising barrister, a direction to the chief executive of the Authority directing him or her to impose a specified restriction or condition on the legal practitioner in respect of his or her practice as a barrister." I am not quite sure what that means. Does that mean that the barrister cannot deal with particular kinds of cases? Does it mean that he or she can give advice but cannot appear in court? What are the restrictions and what do they consist of? What does the term "condition" mean? Does it mean a barrister can only do such and such if he or she had previously satisfied some requirements?

This is fairly vague. I do not know what a "specified restriction" is. It would be useful to have examples of them or a limited number to give us an idea of what is contemplated by the Bill. The same applies to the term "condition". I do not really follow what is meant by a condition. Obviously, the meaning of the word etymologically is that one can only do something if such and such applies or under certain circumstances. It is not at all clear what is intended. I would be very grateful if the Minister could elucidate.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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There is a history in terms of how issues have been dealt with by the Law Society or the Bar Council and various approaches have been taken. In the Bill we are introducing some new models of dealing with complaints. For example, there will be a new disciplinary tribunal. We are also making sure that the LRSA has an oversight role. In section 135 we are moving from reprimand and advice, admonishment and censure. This is very much to align the language of sanctions being used for solicitors and barristers, under traditional terminology, in the Bill. It is taking account of the previous practice and language used in dealing with complaints.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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This is not the sort of thing that should be introduced on Report Stage. If we are discussing traditional language-----

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Traditional terminology.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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-----that should have been known long before we got to Report Stage. That seems to me to be an obvious and logical thing, if we are talking about tradition and traditional language. That is very basic stuff. It should not come in on Report Stage. This is bad draftsmanship; about that there is no doubt. It is rather an insult to the Seanad to present material of this kind to the House. Let the record show that the Minister was nodding. I do not know whether she is agreeing with me.

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael)
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The overall thrust and ethos of what is being achieved here has not changed at all. With the passing of Committee Stage, perhaps the language has evolved somewhat to make it seem more reflective and powerful. We have come a long way on this journey and Report Stage is what it should be, namely, reporting and ensuring that the Bill is properly and effectively bedded down.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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That is a good try, but a bit weak.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 5.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Aideen Hayden and Pat O'Neill; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris..

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 123:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 124:

Amendment agreed to.

:

Government amendment No. 125:

In page 41, in subsection (2) of the section 68 inserted by amendment 78 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete “paragraph (d)” and substitute “paragraph (b)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 126:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 127:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 128:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 129:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 130:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 131:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 132:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 133:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 134:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 135:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 4.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Aideen Hayden and Pat O'Neill; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris..

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 136:

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 137:

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is the amendment agreed?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No. Senator Barrett wants to contribute.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It has already been discussed. Senator Barrett may make a brief contribution.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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On the €15,000 penalty, we have seen headlines to the effect that top Irish law firms earn €250 million in fees and that the figure for revenue per lawyer is €850,000 and €950,000 for revenue by partner. We are not serious about proposing a fine of €15,000 as a deterrent for such people. The Bill states that in making an order the tribunal shall have regard to the means of the legal practitioner concerned. These are millionaires. We should have regard to their means and impose a fine greater than €15,000.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The legal advice I have is that this is the highest amount that can be imposed outside a court setting. If the various issues we are discussing here are dealt with in court, there is the potential for different amounts, but this is the highest amount outside that setting that can be put into the legislation in regard to the tribunal.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 4.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 138:

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 139:

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Where did the word "Chapter" come from in the first place? This is another example of very sloppy draftsmanship.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It came in on Committee Stage.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The word "Chapter" is not appropriately used. It obviously should be "Part" as that is the language of legislation. We have unearthed another example of poor draftmanship.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Parts are divided into Chapters when they are very long in the Bill.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 140:

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 140 has already been discussed with amendment No. 122.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Government amendment No. 140a:

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Can we hear the Minister on this amendment?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 140a, from the third additional list, fixes an error that went into the Bill on Committee Stage in the Seanad in the new section 73(2). The amendment is of no policy consequence at all but rectifies an error in wording.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Can the Minister explain what the error was?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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A number of words were missing, namely, "that the act or omission concerned constitutes misconduct and deals with the issue of sanction under section 72". It goes on to state "an appeal may be brought to the High Court". This amendment inserts those words.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I thought it might have been something to do with the phrase "sue of sanction". The original is garbage. It is inexplicable and incapable of being comprehended by the human intellect. It states, "In page 41, in subsection... to delete "Where the Disciplinary Tribunal makes a determination under section 71(9) sue of sanction...". What is "sue of sanction"? Is it "sue" as in "A Boy Named Sue"? What kind of sanction is referred to? What is the meaning of "under section 71(9)##"?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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That is unparliamentary language.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I am trying to represent the sound of the asterisks. I compliment the final drafter, whoever he or she is, because the substitute text is comparatively easy to understand. There is no sue of sanction at all. It states "Where the Disciplinary Tribunal makes a determination under section 71(9) that the act or omission concerned constitutes misconduct and deals with the issue of sanction under section 72(1), an appeal may be brought to the High Court". That is perfectly clear and obvious. Well done to whoever created this but this is the 14,000th list of amendments.

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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I am concerned that we are getting additional amendments on Report Stage because mistakes or omissions have been spotted on Committee Stage.Even on Report Stage we are getting additional amendments to Committee Stage amendments because mistakes or omissions were spotted in the Committee Stage of the Bill. If we continue with this charade of amendments, I am concerned that a similar situation will arise when the Bill is passed. We will have to go back and have a look because omissions and mistakes will have been made because we are not working on the composite version of the Bill. It is an absolutely ridiculous situation. Again, I call on the Minister to withdraw the Bill. I ask her to give us a full copy of the Bill that includes the Committee Stage amendments so that we can read it properly and thus ensure no omissions or mistakes are made.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The amendment should have read "issue" so it was a simple typo that was made at a point along the way. As I say, it is substituted now, and I have read my note into the record. Under section 71(9), the act or omission concerned constitutes misconduct and deals with the issue of sanction under section 72. The Senator is right when he said that it did not make sense. It was a typo.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 141 to 156, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 141:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 141 is being tabled by the Government to correct a wrong word used in subsection (1) of the section 75 that we agreed to insert into the Bill under amendment No. 85. The word "consideration" was used when in fact the word "recommendation" should have been used and that is being rectified.

There are a number of references in these amendments to legal practitioners who are to be informed in the event of a striking off of a barrister and listing additional directions which may be issued by the High Court having considered a matter referred to it by the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

On amendments Nos. 142 and 143 involve the deletion of the term "legal practitioners".

Amendment No. 144 inserts the words "legal practitioner" before the word "solicitor." It is a drafting amendment to ensure that the person referred to is a legal practitioner as well was being a solicitor.

The purpose of amendment No. 145 is to include the Chief Justice as a person who is required to be notified of a decision of the High Court to direct the removal of the name of a barrister from the new authority's roll of practising barristers.

The purpose of amendment No. 146 is to include three new sanctions which may be imposed on a legal practitioner by the High Court, following an application to it on foot of a complaints process. These new sanctions are to direct the practitioner to take specific action at his or her own expense in the interest of the complainant, to pay a sum of money as restitution to an aggrieved party and to pay the costs of the disciplinary tribunal's inquiry into his or her misconduct. These sanctions were in fact available to the disciplinary tribunal under the amendments made on Committee Stage. However, on the advice of the Attorney General, the power to impose these additional financial sanctions has been transferred to the High Court which will act on the application of the disciplinary tribunal.

Amendment No. 147 is a drafting amendment which makes a decision or order and simply adds the words "decision or" before the word "order."

Amendment No. 148 is an order to ensure that any decision or order of the High Court, relating to a solicitor is furnished to the Registrar of Solicitors. In other words, it must be referred to the Law Society of Ireland. This is in order to ensure that the registrar has notice and may take whatever action is required in relation to that solicitor.

Amendment No. 149 is a straightforward drafting amendment which replaces the word "its" with the word "the."

Amendments Nos. 150 to 153, inclusive, are a composite of drafting amendments so that the lead-in refers to a decision of the High Court rather than an order. The amendments ensure that the word "under" does not have to be repeated in each of the three following subsections.

The purpose of amendment No. 154 is to change the reference to a finding of misconduct of the High Court so that it covers any decision of the High Court under the relevant section, and not just a finding of misconduct.

The purpose of amendment No. 155 is to replace the reference to a determination by the disciplinary tribunal in that subsection with a reference to a direction, determination or order as comprehended to the new subsection which is being inserted by amendment No. 156. The purpose, overall, is to ensure that the power of the new authority to apply to the High Court, in section 80, is to enforce compliance by a legal practitioner with a direction, determination or order of the authority of a review committee, of a divisional committee such as the complaints committee, or of the disciplinary tribunal, as the case may be.

The purpose of amendment No. 156 is to set out the bodies and entities whose directions, determinations or orders are covered by the High Court enforcement power contained in the revised subsection 81, inserted by amendment No. 155.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The Minister has said that the purpose of amendment No. 145 is to include the Chief Justice. That is part of it but there is a part of it that the Minister did not explain. The earlier part of the amendment reads: "where the legal practitioner is a barrister, that the Authority, in accordance with Part 9." I refer to the original amendment No. 85 on Committee Stage which proposed section 75(7)(e) should read: "where the legal practitioner is a barrister, that the name of the barrister be struck off the roll of practising barristers and the Honorable Society of King's Inns informed of the fact." The original amendment did not mention the authority. That is a crucial difference between it and the substituted amendment which clearly specified that the authority shall do it. The original amendment seeks "that the name of the barrister be struck off" and does not specify. That is a fairly significant amendment.

Amendment No. 146 is a very practical method, in my opinion, of redress.

I am concerned and interested in amendment No. 151 which reads:

In page 41, in subsection (4)(a) of the section 78 inserted by amendment 88 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete “under”.

The provision refers to where the High Court makes an order and then goes straight into whatever section. I would have thought that the word "under" was required and wonder if the call for its removal is a mistake. The authority is quoted in the section. The amendment does not even make grammatical sense. The original amendment No. 88 reads:

78.(4) Where the High Court makes an order—

(a) under section 74(3)(b),

(b) under section 74(4)(other than section 74(4)(b),

(c) under section 75 (other than section 75(2)(b).

Today's amendments Nos. 150 to 153, inclusive, seek to get rid of the word "under" which I do not understand. It seems to me to be common practice to say "under" and quote the section of the Act that is coming into force. Getting rid of the word "under" seems very odd to me. Perhaps the Minister can explain.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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I have stayed silent on a lot of this.Amendment No. 155 is puzzling. Is it in this grouping?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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What is amazing is that the note to the amendment reads, "For the information of Senators, the text proposed to be deleted above was inserted by amendment 90 at Committee Stage in the Seanad." Are we going around in circles? It is confusing, to say the least. We made an amendment to this section a week or ten days ago and now we are deleting it. There is a quagmire of confusion. I do not want to add to the Minister's woes, but that there has been a substantial number of votes is understandable. I have been in the Oireachtas for nearly 20 years and I have never seen a Bill so often amended and re-amended in the same House. I made my comments on Second Stage and am concerned that the end product, whether we get it next week, this week or whenever, will be a cause for great confusion and be a source of joy and exploration for many lawyers in the Four Courts.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Great care has been taken by everyone in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, OPC, and my Department involved in working on the Bill. It is complex and detailed legislation. It was necessary for the drafters to take an overview of the Bill. The new and, in some instances, composite sections have led to quite a few of the changes that I am outlining now. It is important that we recommend improvements to the Bill. I am conscious of the large number of amendments, but we are determined to enact a Bill that is fit for purpose. One of the purposes of Report Stage is to consider anything that needs to be clarified, dealt with or amended and ensure consistency. I hope that we can continue to work through the amendments.

Regarding Senator Norris's point on the deletion of subsection (7)(e), the relevant amendment is No. 145 on page 25 of the Report Stage amendments. It reads:

In page 41, in the section 75 inserted by amendment 85 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete subsection (7)(e) and substitute the following:"(e) where the legal practitioner is a barrister, that the Authority, in accordance with Part 9, strike the name of the person off the roll of practising barristers and inform the Chief Justice and the Honorable Society of King's Inns of the fact;".

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The Minister has also inserted "the Authority".

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It was not there before.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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And "the Chief Justice". That is right.

The purpose of amendment No. 155 is to replace the reference to a determination by the tribunal in that subsection with a reference to a direction, determination or order. This is to ensure the power of the new authority to apply to the High Court to enforce compliance by a legal practitioner with a direction, determination or order of the authority.

The drafters have considered this matter. It is a long and detailed Bill. At this point, the drafters are making any recommendation that they see fit.

Senator Norris raised a point about "under this Part". A composite of drafting amendments tidy up section 78(4) so that the lead in refers to a decision of the High Court rather than an order. As such, the word "under" does not have to be repeated in each of the following subsections. That is the best drafting advice that I have on the use of this word.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It does not arise in subsection (4) on where the High Court makes an order. The word "under" is removed right at the beginning and cites the section under which the order is made. Removing it is madness and I have not yet heard an explanation as to why it should not remain.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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I am bewildered. I am not making personal or derogatory comments towards the Minister or the draftspersons, but something is wrong and does not sit appropriately with me. To the best of my knowledge on reflection, we agreed to the amendment the week before last like lambs being shepherded by a sheep dog. A couple of weeks later, it looks like we were either stupid or naive. The note reads, "the text proposed to be deleted above was inserted by amendment 90 at Committee Stage in the Seanad". It was agreed - there was no vote - yet the amendment that we agreed to is now being amended. How can we have trust or faith in a Bill that has major drafting problems? On a point of principle, I must call a vote on this issue for the first time.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Will the Minister explain the point on "under" further?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Regarding Senator Norris's point on amendment No. 150, the reference is inserted in the top line, or chapeau, of the subsection rather than elsewhere. Therefore, it does not have to be repeated in each paragraph.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Frankly, that is complete nonsense. The order is made "under" a section. It is just daft. Currently, it reads:

Where the High Court makes an order--(a) under section 74(3)(b),

(b) under section...

These are the sections under which the order is made. It could not be clearer. The Minister is making the Bill worse. This is disastrous and dreadful stuff.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Obviously, I have no intention of making the Bill worse and neither does any of the drafting amendments that I am introducing. They will improve the Bill, clarify it or allow for greater consistency.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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They will not.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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My understanding is that they will. The reference is made in the chapeauof the subsection so that it will not be repeated three times.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Of course it is necessary. Subsection (1) reads, "A copy of every order made by the High Court under section" such and such. Of course it has to be repeated. This is dreadfully bad drafting. It means absolutely nothing new. It is not even in brackets. If it were in brackets, one could make some feeble argument.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It will now read:

Where the High Court makes a decision under--(a) section 74(3)(b),

(b) section74(4)...

(c) section 75...

The first line is followed by a list of the sections. That reads as perfectly straightforward.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No, it does not.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I do not understand what the Senator finds difficult about this. It continues, "the Authority shall arrange for the publication of" the nature of the decision, the nature of the misconduct, etc. This is straightforward.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is not, because the Minister is removing "under".

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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No. We are inserting "a decision under". Where the High Court-----

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Amendment No. 151 reads, "In page 41, in subsection (4)(a) of the section 78 inserted by amendment 88 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete "under"." The Minister is removing "under".

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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No. I am leaving it as "Where the High Court makes a decision under". The words "a decision under" will replace "an order" before listing the sections.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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Senator Norris is a master of English, but I think he is confusing himself.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It now refers to where the High Court makes "a decision under" the various sections.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I am totally nonplussed, because the amendment states:

In page 41, in subsection (4)(a) of the section 78 inserted by amendment 88 at Committee Stage in the Seanad, to delete “under”.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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That is amendment No. 151, Senator Norris.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Yes. That is what I am talking about.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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We are discussing amendment No. 150.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No, I am referring to amendment No. 151.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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We are discussing them all together, including amendments Nos. 150 and 151.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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My understanding is that Senator Norris is speaking to amendment No. 150 and the phrase relating to where the High Court makes "an order".

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No. I am talking about amendment No. 151. I am sorry if there is any confusion.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 151 is linked to amendment No. 150. There is no need for the word "under" because, as I have been saying to Senator Norris, the top line now states-----

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Where is the top line? Is the Minister referring to page 40?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I am referring to subsection (4) and the reference to where the High Court makes "an order".

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The High Court makes "an order" and the amendment deletes "under".

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Senator Norris is not looking at the first amendment. Amendment No. 150 refers to where the High Court makes a decision "under". This allows us to eschew the word "under" in each of the subsequent lines. Let us go down through it - I am sorry if I am repeating myself. The reference is to where the High Court makes a decision "under". At that point we need not refer to where the High Court makes a decision "under" in the following subsections. One follows from the other. Amendment No. 151 follows from the fact that amendment No. 150 incorporates the reference to a decision "under". We need to consider amendment No. 151 in light of the reference to where the High Court makes a decision "under". At that point we no longer need to have the word "under" in each of the subsequent subsections.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 142:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 143:

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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Amendments Nos. 142 and 143 propose to delete "Legal Practitioners". I have set out how I feel and why I have made certain remarks as we have gone through this Bill. The amendments will delete the reference to "Legal Practitioners". I might insert the phrase when we discuss the conveyancing monopoly.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 144:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 145:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 146:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 147:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 148:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 149:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 150:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 151:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 152:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 153:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 154:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 155:

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 5.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and Ned O'Sullivan..

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 156:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 157 and 158 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 157:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The purpose of the proposed amendment No. 157, which inserts a new section 81 into the Bill, is to provide for what happens in relation to the handling of complaints concerning solicitors in the changeover from the existing complaints regime operated by the Law Society to the new regime to be operated by the legal services regulatory authority, LSRA. These are effectively transitional provisions.

The situation will be as follows. Where the Law Society has received a complaint about a solicitor before the commencement of the relevant provisions of this Act then it will process the complaint via its existing mechanisms and applying the provisions of the Solicitors Acts. Where complaints relating to inadequate services or excessive fees are made in relation to a solicitor on or after the date of commencement of this legislation, even though the complaint relates to an act or omission before commencement, it will be dealt with by the LSRA under the new legislation. It is really important that all disciplinary issues and complaints will now be dealt with by the LRSA, so there will be a completely independent authority dealing with disciplinary issues or complaints about solicitors or barristers. That is a central element of this legislation and its importance.

Where a complaint relates to misconduct, as opposed to inadequate service or excessive fees, and it relates to an act or omission of a solicitor before the commencement of this legislation, it will be dealt with by the new authority but using the old definitions of misconduct from the Solicitors Acts. This is to protect against a situation in which a misconduct complaint about a solicitor regarding something that happened before commencement of this Act would be evaluated against a new definition of misconduct. The new definition cannot be applied retrospectively.

Where a complaint about a solicitor which relates to an act or omission occurring after the commencement of this legislation is received by the authority, it will be processed by the authority under the provisions of Part 5 of this new legislation. When the Bill was first published, we had a Part 5 and Part 6 relating to the handling of disciplinary and complaint issues. They are now all being dealt with under Part 5.

These transitional provisions are complex and rather elaborate, but they are necessary in order to ensure that all of the necessary legalities are taken care of.That is critical in any legislative regime that covers the misconduct of professionals. We are talking here about potential misconduct by solicitors and barristers.

The purpose of amendment No. 158, which inserts a new section 82 is to provide for what happens regarding the handling of complaints concerning barristers in the changeover from the existing complaints regime operated by the Bar Council and partly by the Honourable Society of King's Inns to the new regime, which, as I have said, will be operated fully by the legal services regulatory authority. The transitional provisions concerning barristers are slightly different from those concerning solicitors. This is because complaints regarding solicitors are currently dealt with by the Law Society. The process is currently under a statutory regime set out in the Solicitors Acts. Senators will be aware that five Solicitors Acts have been passed to date.

At present, complaints regarding barristers are handled under the rules of the Bar Council and involve the Honourable Society of King's Inns where recommendations are required to be made regarding serious misconduct leading to disbarment of the barrister, which is handled by the benchers of the society under its rules and long-standing common law. To this extent, by contrast with the regime for solicitors, we have no reference point before the commencement of the new Act for a definition of barrister misconduct. The authority, therefore, cannot deal with complaints about barristers' acts or omissions that will have occurred before the commencement of our new Act. Such complaints will continue to be handled under the existing Bar Council regime, where applicable, and the processes of the Honourable Society of King's Inns where relevant.

The transitional provisions concerning complaints about barristers will be as follows. Disbarment by the benchers of the Honourable Society of King's Inns in respect of pre-commencement misconduct of a barrister will be required to be notified by the society to the new authority, and the new authority will bring the matter before the High Court. The High Court will, after due process, make an order either striking the name off the authority's roll of practising barristers or imposing another sanction, as appropriate. All other cases, that is, cases regarding a complaint regarding an act or omission of a barrister after the commencement of the legislation, will be dealt with by the new authority.

With regard to both solicitors and barristers, these are necessary transitional provisions. Older cases will be dealt with through the system fairly quickly leading to a situation where everything will be dealt with by the new authority. As I stated, there are different transitional provisions for solicitors and barristers, and that is because, up to now, solicitors have been dealing with these complaints under the Solicitors Acts whereas barristers have been dealing with misconduct internally, thus requiring a slightly different process. However, both processes require new sections to spell out quite clearly the transitional provisions as we move towards the new legal services regulatory authority.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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On amendment No. 157, my complaint is not so much on the propriety of the proposal but on another matter. It is very annoying that the amendment states, "In page 41, to delete the section 81 inserted by amendment 91 at Committee Stage in the Seanad and substitute the following". We debated amendment No. 91 at length on Committee Stage and the Minister read a footnote into the record in this regard approximately two weeks ago. We expect that when an amendment is put to us, it is well researched, well meant and well intended.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is a new section.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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We are on amendment No. 157.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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I accept that but I am saying it is very frustrating for Senators. We were present here for Committee Stage. There were very few votes, if any, but now we are being asked to amend what we agreed on Committee Stage, more or less. I object on principle. We have been waiting for this Bill for four years; it was published four years ago. At this late stage, coming up to the Christmas recess, we are dealing with a plethora of amendments that should have been dealt with months ago. I have no problem being here - I will stay here until morning - but it is unfair on the House and Cathaoirleach. Some of the amendments are technical. I am not questioning the propriety or merit of some of these amendments. We had a long lead-up to this Bill. The amendments we are now dealing with should have been dealt with on Committee Stage. We are amending amendments that were made and deleting some of them. We accepted amendments to the original Bill on Committee Stage. What is occurring is very disconcerting and worrying. If the Bill is brought back again from the Dáil, are we to amend amendments we made twice?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 157 is not amending anything agreed to on Committee Stage. It is, in fact, proposing the insertion of a new section, section 81, on the transitional provisions.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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The amendment states: "In page 41, to delete the section 81 inserted by amendment 91 at Committee Stage in the Seanad and substitute the following". We are repealing the amendment made on Committee Stage. I accept there is a new section but the Minister has introduced-----

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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More detail.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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Two weeks ago, amendment No. 91 was accepted on Committee Stage but we are now deleting what we agreed to in good faith in this House at that time and inserting a new section. If we came back here in three weeks, would we be making further changes? There is a lot of uncertainty. This is probably the most significant Bill that has faced the legal profession in my lifetime, yet it is as if we are in a maze. We are unsure of where we are going. We are amending amendments and deleting provisions we agreed to two weeks ago. It is disconcerting and worrying. Are we going to get it right in the end? I am not sure.

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael)
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I understand where Senator O'Donovan is coming from to a point but I believe that what has come back in here enhances the legislation and what we agreed on Committee Stage. To be fair to the Minister and her officials, that is what we are all trying to achieve. I acknowledge that it is what Senator O'Donovan is trying to achieve as well.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Report Stage is a late Stage to be enhancing it in this very significant manner.

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael)
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That is what Report Stage is for.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Putting that aside, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that, in amendment No. 145, we have substituted "where the legal practitioner is a barrister, that the Authority, in accordance with Part 9, strike the name of the person off the roll"? Amendment No. 158, however, states: "Where, on or after the date on which this subsection comes into operation, the Benchers of the Honourable Society of King’s Inns disbar a person [...]". In one amendment, we are saying the authority disbars barristers and in another we are giving free rein to the Honourable Society of King's Inns to do the disbarring. Perhaps the Minister could explain this or elucidate it in some way for me.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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What I had said on that was that because of the different ways in which solicitors and barristers have done their business up to now, I had to make such provision. Senator O'Donovan, whose point I understand, should note this is why I have had to make an amendment on Report Stage. We had thought we would be in a position to deal with the two professions in a similar way but it was felt, on having sought further legal advice, that I should insert a new section allowing, at the transitional stage, for different means of handling of both. The solicitors previously disbarred members of their profession under statute while the barristers did not. As I stated when going into the details, since disbarment of barristers will have been carried out informally in-house before the commencement of this Act, we will not really have a reference point regarding how cases will have been dealt with.The recommendation is that before the commencement of this new Act for a definition of barristers’ misconduct - we have no reference point for that definition - the authority thus cannot deal with complaints about barristers acts or omissions which occurred before commencement of the new Act. Such complaints will have to continue to be handled under the existing Bar Council regime. This refers to old complaints but as soon as they have been dealt with, any new complaints coming in can then be dealt with under the new sections that deal with complaints and will be dealt with by the Legal Services Regulation Authority, LRSA, in the way I have outlined.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and Ned O'Sullivan.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 158:

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 159 is a Government amendment which arises from committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 159 and 267 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 159:

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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This straightforward amendment concerns the appointment of a monitor as an additional legislative safeguard over the retained functions of the Law Society in relation to the financial regulation of solicitors, and to the maintenance of the solicitors' compensation fund.

The purpose of amendment No. 159 is to amend the Legal Services Regulation Bill to provide the new authority with the power to appoint a member or members of staff to be a monitor for the purposes of attending meetings of relevant committees of the Law Society which are dealing with the investigation of solicitors in respect mainly of the solicitors' accounts regulation.

As already pointed out to the House, the Law Society will retain oversight of solicitors' accounts, financial conduct and associated matters. Part of the oversight role of the new authority in relation to the Law Society's retained functions is the presence of the LRSA monitor at committees where decisions are being made regarding the action to be taken in relation to a solicitor.

The role of the monitor will be to attend and observe. It is provided that the authority may request reports from the monitor from time to time in relation to the performance of their functions. The new authority is also empowered under the legislation to make recommendations to the Minister for legislative change. The intention is that any recommendations arising from the monitor's attendance at Law Society committee meetings would feed into these recommendations. Therefore, this is to ensure that the LRSA has access to what is happening in those committees, can report back, and can make recommendations based on his or her observations of the Law Society's committee meetings in relation to these matters.

The purpose of amendment No. 267, which dovetails with this, is to amend the Solicitors Acts so as to provide in the legislation governing the Law Society that an LRSA monitor may attend and observe at any relevant meeting, and oblige the society to inform the authority of the place and time of any such meeting. This makes it clear that we now have an independent authority with the power to send somebody to attend meetings of the Law Society at any point in time. Equally, the Law Society has to tell the LRSA when and where it is having its meetings.

This inserts a new section 14C into the Solicitors Act 1994, which provides for the presence of a monitor appointed by the LRSA to attend at meetings of Law Society committees which have powers or functions of investigating alleged misconduct by a solicitor. It mirrors the power to appoint such a monitor which has been inserted into the Legal Services Regulation Bill by amendment No. 159.

Senators will recall that a key part of the strategy, which involves the retention of certain solicitors' oversight and misconduct issues by the society, is that the operation of these functions will be subject to oversight by the new authority. One of the key components of the oversight is that we have this monitoring arrangement and engagement in a practical way between the LRSA and the committees of the Law Society.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I take it that we are reliant on section 14C of the 1994 Act for a definition of "monitor", because I do not see one at any point in the Bill. Would it not have been useful to put a definition of "monitor" into the early part of the Bill which contains definitions?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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My understanding is that it is defined in the section by the details of the tasks that the person is actually carrying out.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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As we go from local authority to Minister, to practising barrister, there is no definition of "monitor" in the definitions section.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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No, and it is not defined in amendment No. 159. It just says "perform the functions of a monitor", but it does not say what a monitor is. It could be a monitor lizard.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I would be concerned that it is not somebody moving across either from the Bar Council or the Law Library. They seem to have had a particular influence on the Bill, securing posts in the new authority. Who is the monitor and what is he or she supposed to be doing? I think we need a definition.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The section provides the new authority, the LRSA, with the power to appoint the member. I do not know what Senator Barrett said but it was something in relation to who that person would be. The authority has the power to appoint a member or members of staff to be a monitor for the purposes of attending the meeting. The new independent authority decides who the monitor is, so it is very much a function of the new authority to put the monitor in place.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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There is no definition of "monitor".

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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On page 44 of the Report Stage amendments, the definition of "monitor" means "a person appointed by the authority under section 83 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, to perform the functions of a monitor under this section". That is how it is dealt with.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Will the Minister give me the page number?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is page 44 of the Report Stage amendments.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I thank the Minister very much and I am grateful for her guidance.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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In section 173(3), "committee" means any committee of the society to which the powers or functions of investigating alleged misconduct by a solicitor have been delegated.The monitor is then the person appointed by the authority to perform the functions of the monitor under this section.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is still rather weak that there is no definition of "monitor". There is no definition of "monitor" in the Bill at all. That is not a definition of a monitor, it is a description of some of the activities.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is a monitor for the purposes of attending meetings, to give feedback from them and to bring back to the authority any matters of relevance that arise at the meetings which may indicate a need for change. That is the job the monitor has to do.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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With respect, this is quite an important point and I am not filibustering on it. The section does not define "monitor", it says the monitor may attend and observe any meeting. It does not say anything about reporting back. It refers to performing the functions of a monitor under the section. I see nothing about reporting back or the duties of a monitor. It says simply that the monitor will attend and observe and perform the functions of a monitor under the section. The functions are not defined apart from the reference to observing and attending.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is provided that the authority may request reports from the monitor from time to time in relation to the performance of his or her functions. The authority is also empowered under the legislation to make recommendations to the Minister for legislative change and the intention is that any recommendations arising from the monitor's attendance at Law Society committee meetings would feed into these recommendations. If one has a committee and makes a decision that somebody should go along to the meeting to monitor what is happening there, it is obvious and a common practice that the person would come back to the executive and say what has been happening at those meetings. Reports would be requested. There is provision for reports to be made. It is common sense that the person will come back and make recommendations on foot of attendance at the meeting. That is what the authority is empowered to ask the person to provide.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Does the legislation specify the making of recommendations? I may have missed that.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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No. The reports would come from the monitor and then it would be up to the LRSA to act on that.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I am afraid that we are not going to get anywhere with it. It is very vague and lacking in definition.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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This was inserted by way of amendment No. 52 on Committee Stage in the Seanad. I cannot find any reference to the monitor in that section either. It has been a long day and it may be that somebody else will find it. We do not define him or her and I do not think we can rely on section 42 as inserted by amendment No. 52 on Committee Stage. The monitor is not mentioned if I have read it correctly.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The job of the monitor is to attend and observe. The functions of the monitor are clearest between the two amendments. We do not believe a further definition is needed. The monitor's function is to report where required. Given the normal ways a CEO or board acts where a monitor attends at a committee under his or her control or oversight, I would have thought it is clear they would ask the monitor to provide reports back. If there are issues arising out of those reports, I would expect them to act on them. That is normal practice.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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In the definitions section, "chief executive" is defined, "committee" is defined and "complainant" is defined but the Minister does not define "monitor" anywhere.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It is defined. The job is defined.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 160 has already been discussed with amendment No. 24. Senator Barrett has indicated he will not move the amendment as the text he is proposing to amend was deleted on Committee Stage.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I do not recall that.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Senator cannot move it because the text has been deleted.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I was unaware of that and I beg the Cathaoirleach's pardon as it was no discourtesy to him. Page 41 had 38 lines and it has now been amended 105 times. That must be an entry for the Guinness Book of Records.

Amendment No. 160 not moved.

Government amendment No. 161:

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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This gives functions to the Minister-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It has already been discussed.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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It deals with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister, Deputy Howlin, was not mentioned in my hearing. Very important functions are being taken away from him. As a person who monitors public expenditure-----

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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He is a monitor.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It has already been discussed.

Photo of Sean BarrettSean Barrett (Independent)
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I bow to the Cathaoirleach's experience. I did not hear the Minister, Deputy Howlin, mentioned once. I do not wish to have him deleted from the Bill. He has important functions in his role in appraising public expenditure in this country.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 6.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Sean D. Barrett and David Norris.

Amendment declared carried.

Government amendment No. 162:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 163:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 164:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 165:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 166:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 167:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 168:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 169:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 170:

Amendment put and declared carried.

Debate adjourned.