Monday 22 December 2014

Lawyers told their policy of no-change 'is not a runner'

Kathryn Hayes and Emma Jane Hade

Published 24/06/2014 | 02:30

Noonan has hit back at claims by the Law Society that proposals to cut court services are shortsighted and flawed
Noonan has hit back at claims by the Law Society that proposals to cut court services are shortsighted and flawed

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has hit back at claims by the Law Society that proposals to cut court services are shortsighted and flawed insisting "things have to move on".

The society's director general, Ken Murphy, has said cuts to court services around the country have reached an unjustifiable level and now pose a threat to "the very fabric of our justice system".

The body which represents solicitors said 77 local courts have been closed since 2008, while the Courts Service budget has been reduced by 40pc.

A proposal to shut suburban District Courts in Dun Laoghaire, Tallaght, Swords and Balbriggan is being considered.

"The rationalisation of the Courts Service has gone beyond what is sensible and justified, and poses a threat to the very fabric of our justice system," Mr Murphy said.

When asked about the matter in Limerick yesterday, Mr Noonan said: "The law profession is a very conservative profession."

Referring to the profession's Latin motto Nolumus Mutari (we shall not be changed), Mr Noonan added: "I think they have an inscription in Latin over The King's Inns which effectively means nothing will ever change.

"But the signal we would like to give the profession is that the new Minister for Justice (Frances Fitzgerald) is available for discussions about the various matters and they are the professionals in the system and we will take their advice very seriously, but the position of 'no change', that's not a runner, things have to move on."

His comments came as the President of the UK Supreme Court warned of "unintended consequences" from the Government's planned Legal Services Bill in Ireland.

It is aimed at reducing the cost of legal services for consumers but Judge David Neuberger said that it risks invoking consumerism "to justify legal advice and representation, which is not properly independent, or which is second-rate".

Addressing the Bars of Ireland and Northern Ireland in Belfast, Justice Neuberger noted the ongoing debate about the highly contentious Legal Services Regulation Bill, which was first published by the former Justice Minister Alan Shatter in October 2011, but has been stalled since.

Irish Independent

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