The Regulation of the Legal Profession in Ireland
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This thesis seeks to explore the regulation of the legal profession in Ireland and to identify whether changes ought to be made to the present regulatory regime. Against a background of economic collapse and Troika bailout, it critically evaluates the present regulatory framework and assesses whether the Legal Services Regulation Bill (LSRB) 2011 adequately addresses the shortcomings in the present system. Ireland's complex, archaic regulatory framework is explored, and its various shortcomings are highlighted, including the role which the HSKI plays in the current system. The various international factors which affect the regulation of the Irish legal profession are identified, including the law of the EU and the Codes of Conduct of international representative bodies. The rationale behind regulation, and the importance of identifying regulatory objectives are explored. The present self-regulatory framework is critically analysed. A quantitative study of solicitors' misconduct is included, which seeks to identify common features in patterns of misconduct and to provide insight into the efficacy of the present regulatory regime. The regulatory systems in other jurisdictions are examined with a view to informing suggestions for reform in the Irish context. The regimes in other bailed out states, in particular; Greece and Portugal are considered, in order to ascertain whether Ireland has been subjected to a unique experiment at the hands of the Troika, or whether other bailed out countries have been subjected to similar programmes of regulatory reform. A detailed account of the provisions of the LSRB 2011 is given, along with a consideration of the responses of key stakeholders to its publication. Further reform of the Bill is recommended in view of the thesis' findings, and measures beyond the enactment of legislation are also suggested.