Written Answers. - Regulatory Reform.

John Bruton

Question:

374 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the adoption or otherwise by his Department of the recommendations made in the OECD Review, Regulatory Reform in Ireland; and the concrete steps taken by his Department in pursuit of these recommendations since the publication of the report. [10791/03]

My Department is represented on, and has fully participated in the work of, the high level group on regulation which was established in order to develop and co-ordinate the better regulation agenda with particular regard to the institutional and policy proposals required on foot of the OECD's report. In this context, my Department has made appropriate inputs into the development of the public consultation document, Towards Better Regulation, and a model for regulatory impact analysis, RIA. Regarding the latter, my Department has identified the intended reform of gaming-lotteries legislation as a possible pilot project for RIA.

As regards reform of the liquor licensing system, the Commission on Liquor Licensing has recently submitted its fourth and final report. The commission has recommended wide-ranging structural reforms of the licensing system and I intend to respond to these recommendations in a codification of the entire intoxicating liquor code which I have already announced. Reform of the code will require collaboration with other agencies such as the Office of the Revenue Commissioners the Courts Service and the Garda. My intention is that an outline of the reformed system will be completed by mid-2004.

The OECD report also recommended that the control of education and entry of legal professionals should be moved from the self-governing bodies but that close ties should be maintained with those bodies as regards quality of entrants and content of education and training and that the freedom of solicitors to advertise their fees and areas of specialisation should be maintained. The latter part of this recommend ation, concerning freedom to advertise, is implemented in that there is no prohibition on solicitors advertising in this way. As part of the follow up to the OECD report, the Government asked the Competition Authority to carry out a study of professional services. The authority recently published the report of consultants engaged by them concerning eight professions, among them solicitors and barristers. The authority's work is ongoing and I look forward to its outcome in due course.
In addition, the following initiatives, of relevance to the issue of regulatory reform, have been taken in the courts area: (i) the decision to set up a commercial court; (ii) the re-organisation of the judicial review list to include a separate list for planning and environment-related applications, and (iii) the making of special provisions for the hearing of applications under the Competition Act.