Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Dara Calleary TD has raised concerns about the Government’s moves to establish two new quangos in the new Legal Services Bill.
Commenting on the Bill, Deputy Calleary welcomed the measures within it to provide greater information on legal costs and those measures that will make it easier for young people to qualify as barristers or solicitors. However he raised serious concerns about aspects of the proposed legislation, in particular the establishment of two new quangos and the associated danger of putting the independence of our legal system into question.
Deputy Calleary said: “This is yet another example of the Government’s spectacular u-turn on their promise to reduce the number of quangos in this country in a bid save money. The Justice Minister Alan Shatter is now setting up two new quangos, namely the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Authority.
“The Legal Services Regulatory Authority will be a large and hugely expensive quango. In order to regulate the whole legal profession in this country it will probably need to be heavily staffed. The experience of other quangos is that ultimately the cost will be passed on to the consumer so the Government are misleading people by saying this quango will not cost the taxpayer money. As for the Legal Practioners Disciplinary Authority, the Government appear to be adding another layer to the regulatory maze by creating a three tier complaint system.
“Fianna Fáil believe it would be more appropriate if the Bar Council and Law Society could carry out their regulatory functions and be supervised by an independent statutory authority. This would be less costly and more efficient. This system is used in the UK and other countries.
“This Bill is not simply about how lawyers in Ireland will be regulated. It is about what confidence Irish people and multi-nationals can have in the Irish legal system. While I wholeheartedly agree with the principle of reducing the cost of legal services in this country, I am concerned that there are unnecessary and costly measures in this Bill. My colleagues and I look forward to a full debate on the Bill in the Dáil and the Seanad.”