Radical overhaul of legal system before end of the year
FAR reaching laws to overhaul Ireland's legal sector will be in place by the end of the year, despite concerns over aspects of the new regime by the legal profession.
Last night Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who has struck a much more conciliatory tone with lawyers and judges than her predecessor Alan Shatter, told newly qualified solicitors that the Legal Services Regulation Bill will proceed as planned to report stage in the Dail next month.
Ms Fitzgerald, in her first parchment ceremony before the Law Society, stressed she would consult with both branches of the legal profession to "avoid any unintended consequences" when the new law is passed.
The bill, which was pioneered by Mr Shatter and which includes controversial plans to allow lawyers to form businesses with other service providers such as accountants, is expected to be enacted by November.
Ms Fitzgerald told 81 new solicitors that they faced "a world of uncertainty".
But she insisted the new bill, which will see a new body to regulate solicitors and barristers, represents "new opportunities".
"I recognise the need to maintain the integrity and high standards of the legal professions in the introduction of any new measures under the bill," said Ms Fitzgerald.
The ceremony marked an opportunity for the Law Society to respond to claims by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that the legal profession was reluctant to change. Earlier this week Mr Noonan hit back at claims by the Law Society that proposals to cut court services are shortsighted and flawed insisting "things have to move on".
Last night society president John P Shaw said the only caveat to courts reform was that such change could not be done on a shoestring.
"We are not afraid of change," he said.