The Legal Services Regulatory Authority has completed its first statutory Review of the Operation of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 as it is required to do, in the independent exercise of its functions, under section 6 of that Act. In accordance with the Act, the Authority has laid the findings of its Review before each House of the Oireachtas on 29th March 2019.
Along with my Department, I very much welcome the report of the Review as a modern legislative tool intended to further enhance the operation and effectiveness of the Legal Services Regulation Act. This can improve the Act in its structural reform and regulation of legal services and legal costs in the State while also enhancing the Act's new legal professional conduct regime.
The Authority's review has included a public consultation process and the receipt of 18 submissions, including from the legal professional bodies and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The Authority has recommended 42 legislative amendments to the 2015 Act so as to -
(a) ensure the sufficiency and sustainability of the funding model provided under the Act to enable the Authority to perform its functions and fulfil its objectives;
(b) ensure that the Roll of Practising Barristers, as established, fulfils its legislative intention,
(c) facilitate appropriate information and data sharing between the Authority and the professional bodies,
(d) correct drafting and technical anomalies.
I am, therefore, along with officials of my Department, giving detailed and open consideration to these and other matters raised in the Review and to any necessary measures proposed. This will include such legislative amendments or refinements, if any, as may be considered appropriate, subject to their approval by Government. My Department will continue to work closely with the Authority on these matters.
At the same time, any further refinements of the 2015 Act arising from the Review will augment the substantial progress being made by the Regulatory Authority in the ongoing roll-out of its functions. Under its Strategic Plan 2018-2010 the Authority will be introducing Legal Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships in the coming weeks. It will come into substantial operational mode after the summer with the coming on stream of its public complaints and professional conduct procedures. This will be supported by the separate establishment of the new and independent Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal which will deal with both solicitors and barristers, and, the coming into operation of the new Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators. Both are also set to come on stream over the summer period.