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Shatter says there's 'no reason for concern' over legal reforms

The Justice Minister criticised the “unfortunate hysteria” over his proposed wide-ranging reforms to the legal sector in Ireland.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE JUSTICE MINISTER Alan Shatter has said that there is “no reason for concern” over the controversial Legal Services Regulation Bill which will be debated in the Dáil this week.

Shatter said there had been “unfortunate hysteria by way of analysis” of the proposed reforms which will go before the Dáil this Tuesday and Thursday.

The reforms include the establishment of an independent regulatory body for solicitors and barristers – currently regulated separately by the Law Society and the Bar Council – as well as an independent adjudicator on legal costs.

However concerns have been raised about what effect the reforms will have on the independence of the judiciary.

The Law Society believes the reforms will be costly and it is in conflict with the government, believing the current reforms as laid out amount to government control of the legal sector.

Defending the reforms on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics last night, Shatter said: “We’re not proposing, as has been suggested, that I as minister or any future ministers should control the professions.”

He said the reforms were about “modernising” the legal profession and bringing it into the “21st century”.

Shatter rejected complaints that in someway it amounted to the minister controlling the profession because he would be able to appoint the majority of members to the proposed regulatory authority as well as have the power to sack members of the authority.

“The structure of the legislation reflects the structure of other regulatory bodies,” he said before later adding: “The legislation sets out quite clearly that the authority is independent of the minister.”

Legal Services Bill proposes new regulator and more transparent fees

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Hugh O'Connell

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