Legal Services Regulation Act 2015

39.

Powers of Inspectors

39.  (1) For the purposes set out in section 38 , an inspector may—

(a) subject to subsections (3) and (5), enter and inspect any place—

(i) which he or she reasonably believes is being used to carry on the business of a legal practitioner,

(ii) at which he or she has reasonable grounds for believing records or documents relating to the business of a legal practitioner are being kept,

(b) at such place inspect and take copies of any books, records, accounts or other documents (including books, records, accounts or documents stored in non-legible form), or extracts therefrom, that he or she finds in the course of his or her inspection,

(c) require—

(i) any legal practitioner who carries on the business of a legal practitioner in the place concerned, or

(ii) any person at the place concerned, including the owner or person in charge of that place,

to produce to the inspector such books, records, accounts or other documents (and in the case of documents stored in non-legible form, produce to him or her a legible reproduction thereof) that are in that person’s possession or procurement, or under that person’s control, as that inspector may reasonably require for the purposes of his or her functions under this Act,

(d) subject to an order being obtained for such purpose from the High Court under section 40 , seize and retain any such books, records, accounts or other documents from such premises and take any other steps which appear to the inspector to be necessary for preserving or preventing interference with such books, records, accounts or other documents,

(e) where there is data equipment on the premises which the inspector reasonably believes is or has been used in connection with the business of the legal practitioner, require any person—

(i) who uses the data equipment or on whose behalf the data equipment is used, or

(ii) having charge of, or who is otherwise concerned with the operation of, such equipment,

to afford the inspector all reasonable assistance in relation to the operation of such equipment and any associated apparatus or material,

(f) subject to an order being obtained for such purpose from the High Court under section 40 , to secure for later inspection such data equipment and any associated apparatus or material,

(g) subject to an order being obtained for such purpose from the High Court under section 40 , secure for later inspection the place or any part of the place, for such period as may reasonably be necessary for the purpose of exercising his or her powers under this section,

(h) require—

(i) any legal practitioner who carries on the business of a legal practitioner in the place concerned, or

(ii) any person at the place concerned, including the owner or person in charge of that place,

to give the inspector such information and assistance as the inspector may reasonably require for the purposes of his or her functions under this Act,

(i) examine with regard to any matter under this Act any person whom the inspector has reasonable grounds for believing to be—

(i) a legal practitioner who carries on the business of a legal practitioner in the place concerned, or

(ii) employed by a person referred to in sub paragraph (i),

and require the person to answer such questions as the inspector may ask relative to those matters and to make a declaration of the truth of the answers to those questions, and

(j) require a legal practitioner who carries on the business of a legal practitioner in the place concerned, or any person duly authorised by the legal practitioner in that behalf, to give such authority in writing addressed to such bank or banks as an inspector requires for the purpose of enabling the inspector to inspect any accounts held by that practitioner at such bank or banks and obtain copies of any documents relating to such accounts.

(2) Subject to subsection (5), an inspector may use reasonable force, if necessary, to enter any place referred to in subsection (1)(a), to exercise his or her powers under this section.

(3) An inspector may enter and inspect a place under subsection (1)

(a) at any time during normal business hours with or without prior notice to the practitioner where an inspector reasonably believes that the business of a legal practitioner is carried on at that place or records or documents relating to the business of a legal practitioner are being kept at that place, and

(b) at any other time on reasonable notice to the practitioner.

(4) When performing a function under this Act, an inspector may, subject to any warrant under subsection (6), be accompanied by such number of other inspectors or members of the Garda Síochána as he or she considers appropriate.

(5) An inspector shall not enter a dwelling other than—

(a) with the consent of the occupier, or

(b) pursuant to a warrant under subsection (6).

(6) Upon the sworn information of an inspector, a judge of the District Court may—

(a) for the purposes of enabling an inspector to carry out an inspection of a place that the inspector has reasonable grounds for believing is being used for the carrying on of the business of a legal practitioner, or

(b) if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that information, books, records, accounts or other documents (including information, books, records, accounts or other documents stored in non-legible form) required by an inspector under this section relating to the business of a legal practitioner is or are held in any place,

issue a warrant authorising a named inspector accompanied by such other inspectors or members of the Garda Síochána as may be necessary, at any time or times, before the expiration of one month from the date of issue of the warrant, to enter the dwelling (if necessary by using reasonable force) and exercise the powers of an inspector under subsection (1).

(7) In this Part, “place” shall be construed in accordance with section 29 (inserted by section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Search Warrants) Act 2012) of the Offences Against the State Act 1939.