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Friday 24 March 2017

Shatter 'open to suggestions' on overhaul of legal profession

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has said he would welcome any "constructive suggestions" to change the Government's planned regulation of the legal profession.

Following a series of criticisms that the Government would have too much power, Mr Shatter told TDs he was considering some relevant amendments to the controversial Legal Services Bill.

Under the bill, seven out of 11 members of a proposed Legal Services Regulatory Authority will be appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Justice Minister.

The American Bar Association and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe have criticised the bill, in particular the power of Mr Shatter to appoint members to the authority.

The International Bar Association has described the bill as "one of the most extensive and far-reaching attempts in the world by an executive to control the legal profession", which would leave the Irish legal system on a par with China, Gambia and Vietnam.

But yesterday Mr Shatter denied that there was any "hidden agenda" in relation to ministerial functions.

"I do not accept the view that the independence of the new authority will be fettered -- ministerially or otherwise," he told the Dail.

Mr Shatter said that matters such as regulation of the legal sector and transparency of legal costs had been of concern for more than 30 years.

"A process of sectoral change and reform that has traversed so long a period and spawned so many reports and faltering initiatives has to have been one of grudging incrementalism," he said.

Irish Independent

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