Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Justice and Equality

Legal Services Regulation

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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252. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the establishment of an office of a legal services ombudsman, as per the Legal Services Ombudsman Act 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46829/14]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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During the Second Stage debate on the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011, the Dáil was informed of the decision taken in May 2011 not to proceed with the appointment of a Legal Services Ombudsman. This is because the oversight model proposed in the Legal Services Ombudsman Act of 2009 does not meet this Government’s policy commitment to greater independence in the regulation of the legal profession. The 2009 Act is, therefore, to be repealed with the enactment of the new Legal Services Regulation Bill which sets out an alternative and more independent supervisory regime.

Having been a core undertaking of the EU/IMF/ECB Troika Memorandum of Understanding, the Legal Services Regulation Bill is, in succession to the Troika programme, now a Country Specific Recommendation under the EU Semester Process. The Government’s continued commitment to the Bill’s wide-reaching structural reforms is also reflected in the fact that the Bill continues to be a key component of the Action Plan for Jobs, the Medium Term Economic Strategy 2014-2020(MTES) and of the National Reform Plan.

The proposed regulatory system will include an independently appointed and operated Legal Services Regulatory Authority; independent procedures to deal with complaints of professional misconduct, inadequate services and excessive fees; and the establishment of an independent Legal Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal dealing with both solicitors and barristers. The Bill also provides for a more modern, consumer-friendly and transparent legal costs regime including under the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator that will take over the existing functions of the Office of the Taxing-Master. The Bill also provides for the introduction of alternative business structures for the provision of legal services including by legal practitioners in partnership with other non-legal service providers.

The Legal Services Regulation Bill is due to resume Dáil Report Stage on 16 December 2014 in support of its early enactment so that the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority will come into operation in the first half of 2015.


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