Government to consider transfer of Law Society staff to new legal regulator

Solicitors’ body to retain some regulatory control under new version of Bill

The Government is considering the transfer of 16 staff from the Law Society to the proposed new regulator for the legal profession.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the new authority, which will take over the regulatory and disciplinary functions of the Law Society and the Bar Council, could benefit from the experience and expertise of the Law Society's investigative staff.

But he added that transferring them directly on to the public payroll would be complex and could be seen as diluting the regulator’s independence.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors, has lobbied for the 16 staff to be hired by the new body, which is to be established under the long-delayed Legal Services Regulation Bill.


The latest amendments to the draft law were discussed yesterday at the Joint Oireachtas justice committee.

Mr Shatter told the committee the Law Society’s employees could help the new regulator and “from a human perspective” he could see merit in hiring 16 staff who could otherwise lose their jobs.

Complex questions
But directly transferring private sector staff into a public body could raise complex questions about pensions and redundancy arrangements.

Mr Shatter said he would discuss the feasibility of the idea with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and sought assurances from the Opposition that they would not criticise him publicly for examining the proposal.

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesman Niall Collins and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin said they supported the plan.

Separately, Mr Shatter confirmed a U-turn on plans to transfer the functions of the Law Society’s inspectorate to the new regulator.

The latest draft of the Bill shows the Law Society retaining its inspection function.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times