Wednesday 24 October 2018

Costs will fall in 'legal revolution'

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A REVOLUTION in legal services will see a sharp reduction in costs, according to Britain's leading expert in the sector.

Oxford University Professor Richard Susskind, IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice, says that the massive pressure on costs as well as advances in technology will define the next 20 years in legal services.

In the future, people will use online dispute resolution systems instead of lawyers.

"We have a court system that is not fit for purpose on so many levels," said Prof Susskind.

The academic was speaking yesterday at a UCD School of Law conference on the Legal Services Regulation Bill which is set to overhaul Ireland's legal sector.

The bill, which will be debated by TDs and senators over three days in July, will strip barristers and solicitors of their right to self-regulate.

Earlier, Professor John Flood, a leading legal researcher said the professions have "failed the community bargain" and as a result have lost their right to self-regulate.

Prof Flood, of the University of Westminster, added: "This is the bargain of not exploiting consumers and the market in exchange for self-regulation."

Prof Flood said that when he looked at plans to handle complaints about lawyers in the proposed legislation, he "couldn't think of a worse, more complicated procedure".

Britain, he said, had made the complaints procedures very simple, mirroring the complaints procedures in financial services which has one overarching ombudsman who acts as investigator, judge and jury.

Prof Flood told delegates, including members of the Competition Authority, that a true "Maoist revolution" was taking place in legal services with new alternative business structures emerging such as 'hub and spoke' style operations and online firms.

"Ireland, you have a lot to look forward to. It will be a rocky ride, but I think you will have fun," he said.

Law Society president James McCourt said that he believed multi disciplinary partnerships (MDPs) – one of the core aspects of the legal services bill – were a failed concept.

Irish Independent

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