Legal Services Regulation Act 2015

13.

Functions of Authority

13. (1) Subject to this Act, the Authority shall regulate the provision of legal services by legal practitioners and shall ensure the maintenance and improvement of standards in the provision of such services in the State.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the Authority may, and where required by this Act, shall—

(a) keep under review, and make recommendations to the Minister in respect of, the following:

(i) the admission requirements of the Law Society relating to the solicitors’ profession and of the Bar Council and the Honorable Society of King’s Inns relating to the barristers’ profession;

(ii) the availability and quality of the education and training (including on-going training) for the solicitors’ and barristers’ professions, including—

(I) the curriculum arrangements for the provision of clinical legal education and the teaching of legal ethics, negotiation skills, alternative dispute resolution and advocacy, and

(II) the methods by which, and the persons by whom, such education and training is provided;

(iii) the policies of the Law Society in relation to the admission of persons as solicitors in the State, and of the Bar Council and the Honorable Society of King’s Inns in relation to persons becoming entitled to practise as barristers in the State, including the arrangements for—

(I) accreditation of foreign legal practitioners, and

(II) movement by legal practitioners between the professions of solicitor and barrister;

(iv) professional codes;

(v) the organisation of the provision of legal services in the State,

(b) disseminate information in respect of the education and accreditation requirements and other matters referred to in paragraph (a) to such extent and in such manner as it thinks fit,

(c) specify the nature and minimum levels of professional indemnity insurance in accordance with sections 46 and 47 ,

(d) establish and administer a system of inspection of legal practitioners for such purposes as are provided for in this Act,

(e) receive and investigate complaints under Part 6 ,

(f) maintain the roll of practising barristers in accordance with Part 9 ,

(g) promote public awareness and disseminate information to the public in respect of legal services, including the cost of such services,

(h) keep the Minister informed of developments in respect of the provision of legal services by legal practitioners and make recommendations to assist the Minister in co-ordinating and developing policy in that regard,

(i) undertake, commission or assist in research projects and other activities in respect of the provision of legal services, which in the opinion of the Authority may promote an improvement in standards for the provision of those services and public awareness of them, and make recommendations to the Minister arising from those projects or activities, and

(j) perform any other functions conferred on it by this Act or by regulations made under it.

(3) Subject to this Act, the Authority shall be independent in the performance of its functions.

(4) The Authority shall, in performing its functions of the regulation of the provision of legal services under this Act, have regard to the objectives of—

(a) protecting and promoting the public interest,

(b) supporting the proper and effective administration of justice,

(c) protecting and promoting the interests of consumers relating to the provision of legal services,

(d) promoting competition in the provision of legal services in the State,

(e) encouraging an independent, strong and effective legal profession, and

(f) promoting and maintaining adherence to the professional principles specified in subsection (5).

(5) The professional principles referred to in subsection (4)(f) are—

(a) that legal practitioners shall—

(i) act with independence and integrity,

(ii) act in the best interests of their clients, and

(iii) maintain proper standards of work,

(b) that legal practitioners who exercise before any court a right of audience, or conduct litigation in relation to proceedings in any court by virtue of being legal practitioners, shall comply with such duties as are rightfully owed to the court, and

(c) that, subject to any professional obligation of a legal practitioner, including any obligation as an officer of the court, the affairs of clients shall be kept confidential.

(6) Subject to this Act, the Authority may do anything which it considers necessary or expedient to enable it to perform its functions, including liaising and co-operating with other statutory bodies and with other relevant professional and consumer bodies.

(7) Any function of the Authority may be performed through or by the chief executive or any member of its staff duly authorised in that behalf by the Authority.

(8) The chief executive or member of staff of the Authority who performs any of its functions is presumed in any proceedings to have been authorised by it to do so on its behalf, until the contrary is proved.

(9) The Authority may provide for the performance, under the general direction of the Authority, of one or more of its functions by a committee.