Saturday 24 August 2019

Shatter 'really disappointed' with changes to legal bill

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former justice minister Alan Shatter has said he is "really disappointed" that changes to the Legal Services Bill he introduced in 2011 will block the increased competition he had hoped for.

Mr Shatter said the Bill which his successor intends to put to a Dáil vote before Christmas achieves 85pc of what he set out to do but believes the Bar Council "won out" in certain areas.

More than 100 amendments to the original Bill were revealed by Frances Fitzgerald this week, some of which Mr Shatter says were not in the public interest.

"The bit of it which I disagree with and with which I find difficult is that one of the objectives of the legislation was to increase competition in the provision of legal services and to allow legal services to be delivered through what I described at the time as different business models.

"It was envisaged allowing lawyers to operate as they currently do but also the possibility of barrister partnerships, of barrister-chamber partnerships, and also the possibility of young barristers being employed in solicitors' offices as lawyers and multi-disciplinary practices. The one-stop-shops," he said.

"It appears it's there in theory but possible gone in reality."

Mr Shatter also described as "ironic" a provision in the Bill which "appears to allow the Bar Council to exclude from the Bar Library any barrister who wants to form a legal partnership or who wishes to participate in a mutli-disciplinary practice, but at the same time it says if there is a multi-disciplinary practice there's nothing to prevent a member of the Bar getting work from them. It's a very strange provision".

Speaking on Newstalk's Pat Kenny show, he said it was a case of "you can't join our club but we will take work from you if you're offering it to us".

Irish Independent

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