I propose to take Questions Nos. 532 TO 534, inclusive, together.
It is clear from the correspondence I have received from the Irish Institute of Legal Executives Ltd, the content of which is reflected in the four issues raised by the Deputy, that the scope of their proposals to confer legal status and a whole range of functions on such a category of persons is extensive and goes beyond those measures to be introduced under the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011. The Bill, which has completed Second Stage in the Dáil and is awaiting Committee Stage, does not make any provision in relation to the role or status of "legal executives" nor is any such provision envisaged.
The proposals being made by the Irish Institute of Legal Executives Ltd on behalf of its members, are far-reaching and relate inter alia to "a right of audience in the District and Circuit Courts, before tribunals and, subject to review, subsequently in all courts", and to the eligibility of members for quasi-judicial and judicial appointments (e.g as District Court judges or as members of Tribunals). These proposals also draw heavily from the regulatory and practise models of England and Wales which do not always correspond to those of our jurisdiction nor to those set out under current Government policy in the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011. Under Section 30 of the Bill, provision is already made for public consultation in relation to the creation of a new profession of conveyancer. It also remains open to legal executives, who are so minded, to pursue the career of solicitor or barrister by way of capitalising on their acquired legal knowledge and experience.
While recognising that there may be additional benefits and efficiencies to be found for consumers and for the legal services sector in a more developed role for "legal executives", the far-reaching proposals being made on their behalf at this time lie beyond the scope of the Legal Services Regulation Bill impinging, as they do, on aspects of the courts and the judiciary. Such matters will, therefore, need to be considered separately on their own merits, while others may come to be considered in due course by the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority.