The regulatory reform of the legal services sector has been taking place since the enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 and the establishment of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority on 1 October 2016 and as set out in the Authority’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 which was laid before the Houses. The Legal Services Regulatory Authority is independent in the performance of its functions,
As the Deputy has raised, Part 6 of the Act provides for the introduction of an independent complaints and professional conduct regime for legal practitioners including the separate establishment and appointment of an independent Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal. The new Tribunal will deal with allegations of serious misconduct by both solicitors and barristers and will replace the existing bodies which currently operate for that purpose and will be winding-down their existing caseloads. Extensive preparations have been ongoing at the Legal Services Regulatory Authority to put the necessary procedural, staffing, IT and other supports in place with the intention of being in a position to receive and process public complaints from next week subject to the formal completion of the relevant Commencement Order to that effect. At that point, members of the public will no longer make their complaints through the legal professional bodies as they do at present but directly to the Authority while the new Disciplinary Tribunal will come into operation in its own right. Details of the relevant public complaints procedures will be made available by the Authority including on its website www.lsra.ie when they come into operation.
Next week should also see the introduction of the new legal costs transparency regime set out in Part 10 of the 2015 Act including, separately, the transition of the Office of the Taxing-Master to that of the Legal Costs Adjudicators which will maintain a publicly accessible Register of its legal costs determinations. Similarly, the roll-out of Legal Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships will take place. The new professional conduct regime being introduced under Part 6 will, therefore, underpin the new legal costs and other obligations that will apply to legal practitioners being regulated under the 2015 Act. Again, as Minister I will be supporting the imminent roll-out of these functions with the commencement of the relevant statutory provisions.