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Legal Services Regulation Bill
PRACTICE AREA GROUP: Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution
The Minister for Justice and Equality has published the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011.
The Bill provides for a number of key changes to the structure and regulation of the legal profession. The Bill provides for independent regulation of the legal profession, changes with regard to access and competition in the provision of legal services, changes regarding legal costs and new procedures for addressing consumer complaints. It includes the following provisions:
- Establishment of an independent, Legal Services Regulatory Authority with responsibility for regulation and oversight of both of the legal professions
- Establishment of an Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator to assume the role of the existing Office of the Taxing-Master. The legal costs regime will be made more transparent.
- An independent complaints structure to deal with complaints about professional misconduct supported by an independent Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
- The Legal Services Regulatory Authority will oversee the education and training standards of the legal profession, the codes of conduct of solicitors and barristers. It will specify the nature and minimum levels of professional indemnity insurance required by the professions and will operate a system of inspection of legal practitioners.
The Bill also provides for the establishment of legal partnerships and multi-disciplinary practices and for direct access to barristers in relation to non contentious matters. The Bill provides for the appointment of both barristers and solicitors as senior counsel by means of Patents of Precedence.