Bloomer v Incorporated Law Society of Ireland

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeLaffoy J.
Judgment Date22 Sep 1995
Neutral Citation1995 WJSC-HC 3882
Docket Number[1994 No. 5680 P],Record No. 5680P/1994

1995 WJSC-HC 3882

THE HIGH COURT

Record No. 5680P/1994
BLOOMER v. INCORPORATED LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND

BETWEEN

ALISON BLOOMER, UNA MICHELLE BRIEN, RICHARD BULLICK, VANESSA BYRNE, PAUL CAMPBELL, JILL CLULOW, BRIAN COLE, STEVEN GERARD COY, LEWIS JOHN CHERRY, CLAIRE DOHERTY, FIONA DUMMIGAN, JONATHAN L. DUNLOP, KATHERINE B. FINNEGAN, PATRICIA GROGAN, RONAN HAUGHEY, JACQUELINE KEE, CORANN KING, MARIE-LOUISE LOWRY, MARK McELHINNEY, BRIAN McLAUGHLIN, KATHERINE McGILLIE, JOSEPH D. McVEIGH, FIONA McKIMM, JOHN MACKIN, HEATHER MATCHETT, PAMELA ANN MORGAN, LOUISE MULHOLLAND, BRONWYN A. PURVIS, MARK REEL, ADRIAN RUTH, IAN STANFIELD, DORIT STUMPER, DENISE TAYLOR, GRAINNE TURLEY AND KARYN A. WOODS
PLAINTIFFS

AND

INCORPORATED LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND, IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
DEFENDANTS

Synopsis:

EDUCATION

Access

Solicitors - Apprentice - Training - Regulations - Compliance - Examinations - Exemptions - Applicant resident in Northern Ire land where he graduated - Lack of knowledge of Constitution and statute law of State - Statutory regulations required success at 1st part of final examination - Requirement inapplicable to graduate of State universities - Refusal to waive or modify requirement for applicant - Whether indirect discrimination against foreigners on ground of nationality - Whether refusal proportionate to lack of knowledge - (1994/5680 P - Laffoy J. - 22/9/95) - [1995] 3 IR 14

|Bloomer v. Incorporated Law Society of Ireland|

WORDS AND PHRASES

"Proportionality"

Solicitors - Apprentice - Training - Regulations - Compliance - Examinations - Exemptions - Applicant resident in Northern Ire land where he graduated - Lack of knowledge of Constitution and statute law of State - Statutory regulations required success at 1st part of final examination - Requirement inapplicable to graduate of State universities - Refusal to waive or modify requirement for applicant - Whether indirect discrimination against foreigners on ground of nationality - Whether refusal proportionate to lack of knowledge - (1994/5680 P - Laffoy J. - 22/9/95) - [1995] 3 IR 14

|Bloomer v. Incorporated Law Society of Ireland|

PROFESSIONS

Solicitors

Admission - Applicant - Apprentice - Training - Regulations - Compliance - Examinations - Exemptions - Applicant resident in Northern Ireland where he graduated - Lack of knowledge of Constitution and statute law of State - Statutory regulations required success at 1st part of final examination - Requirement inapplicable to graduate of State universities - Refusal to waive or modify requirement for applicant - Whether indirect discrimination against foreigners on ground of nationality - Whether refusal proportionate to lack of knowledge - Statutory instrument - Validity - Severance - Evidence - Onus of proof - Solicitors Acts, 1954 and 1960 (Apprenticeship and Education) Regulations, 1991 (S.I. No. 9), regs. 8, 13–15 - Solicitors Acts, 1954 and 1960 (Apprenticeship and Education) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations, 1992 (S.I. No. 360) - Solicitors Act, 1954 ss. 5, 24, 40 - Solicitors Acts, 1954 and 1960 (Apprenticeship and Education) (Amendment) Regulations, 1995 (S.I. No. 102), reg. 4 - Solicitors Act, 1954 ss. 5, 24, 40 - Solicitors (Amendment) Act, 1994, ss. 36, 40, 49, 80 - Council Directive 89/48/ EEC - Treaty of Rome (EEC), articles 7, 52, 59, 69 - (1994/5680 P - Laffoy J. - 22/9/95) - [1995] 3 IR 14

|Bloomer v. Incorporated Law Society of Ireland|

1

Judgment of Laffoy J. delivered on the 22nd day of September, 1995.

RELIEF CLAIMED
2

These proceedings were initiated by plenary summons which was issued on the 21st September, 1994. At that time all of the Plaintiffs were students of the Law Faculty of the Queens University of Belfast, which I will refer to as the University, and were reading for the Degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) of the University. Since the commencement of these proceedings, thirty-four of the thirty-five Plaintiffs have completed the degree course and passed the final examination and have been awarded the Degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.).

3

The first named Defendant, which is now known as the Law Society of Ireland, and which I will refer to as the Society, is the body entrusted by the Oireachtas with responsibility for administering and, in certain respects, regulating the apprenticeship, vocational training and examination of persons seeking to qualify as solicitors in the State.

4

In essence what the Plaintiffs are striving to achieve by these proceedings is to have the position of law graduates of the University assimilated to that of law graduates of universities established in the State with regard to admission to apprenticeships and the Society's vocational training courses.

5

The specific relief claimed by the Plaintiffs is formulated in the following terms:

6

(1) A declaration that graduates of the University holding the Degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) of the University are entitled to the like recognition and the like exemption from the Final Examination - First Part of the Society, which I will refer to as F.E.-I, as is afforded to graduates of the National University of Ireland, the University of Dublin and the University of Limerick, respectively, who hold a primary degree in law of one of the said universities or who hold a primary degree partly in law and partly in another discipline.

7

(2) A declaration that the Society and Ireland and the Attorney General, and each of them, have been and are, guilty of wrongful discrimination as regards graduates in law of the University.

8

(3) Damages (including aggravated and/or exemplary damages) for conspiracy and/or breach of duty and/or breach of statutory duty under the laws of the State and/or wrongful interference with the rights asserted by the Plaintiffs (excepting the third, sixth, eleventh, sixteenth, seventeenth, twenty-third, twenty-seventh and thirty-third named Plaintiffs) under the Constitution and/or breach of duty under the law of the European Union and/or breach of duty under the European Convention of Human Rights.

9

During the hearing of the action Counsel for the Plaintiffs indicated that the Plaintiffs did not wish to pursue the reliefs claimed in paragraphs (2) and (3) above against the State, so that the only relief being sought against the State is a declaration in the terms of paragraph (1) above.

STATUTORY FRAMEWORK
10

The statutory provisions governing qualification for admission as a solicitor are contained in the Solicitors" Acts, 1954to 1994(the Acts). When these proceedings were initiated the relevant provisions were to be found in Part IV of the Solicitors" Act, 1954(the 1954 Act). However, certain provisions of Part IV were amended by the Solicitors" (Amendment) Act, 1994(the 1994 Act) and the relevant amendments came into operation on 4th November, 1994.

11

Section 24 of the 1954 Act as originally enacted provided as follows:

"Subject to this Part of this Act, a person shall not be admitted as a solicitor unless -"

(a) he has attained the age of twenty-one years,

(b) he has been bound by indentures of apprenticeship to serve as an apprentice to a practising solicitor for the appropriate term and has satisfied the Society that he has duly served under such indentures,

(c) he has obtained from the Society a certificate or certificates certifying that he has passed the appropriate examinations, and

(d) he has complied with any prescribed requirements as to service under indentures of apprenticeship and admission of persons to be solicitors or compliance therewith has been waived by the Society."

12

Section 40 of the 1994 Act amended the 1954 Act by the substitution of a new section for Section 24 which, insofar as it is material for present purposes, is in the following terms:

"(1) Subject to this Part of this Act, a person shall not be admitted as a solicitor unless - "

(a) he has attained the age of twenty-one years,

(b) he has been bound by indentures of apprenticeship for the appropriate term and has satisfied the Society that he has duly served under such indentures of apprenticeship, or has been exempted, as may be prescribed, from being bound by or from service under such indentures of apprenticeship,

(c) he has duly attended such course or courses of education or training (or both) and passed such examination or examinations as may be prescribed, or has been exempted as may be prescribed from attending such course or courses or passing such examinations, or any of them, except those examinations that are obligatory for him,

(d) he has complied with the prescribed requirements (if any) as to service under indentures of apprenticeship and admission of persons to be solicitors or compliance therewith has been waived in the prescribed manner by the Society, and

(e) he has satisfied the Society that he is a fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor."

13

Section 5 of the 1954 Act, which has not been amended, empowers the Society to make regulations generally in relation to any matter or thing referred to in that Act as prescribed or to be prescribed or as being the subject of regulations and for the purpose of the execution of the provisions of that Act. Section 5(3) provides that every regulation made under the 1954 Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made.

14

Section 40 of the 1954 Act, which is contained in Part IV, as originally enacted, contained specific provisions empowering the Society to provide educational facilities and to hold examinations. Section 40(4), as originally enacted, stipulated that regulations for the purposes of Section 40 should provide for the holding by the Society at least once in every year of -

15

(a) a preliminary examination, and

16

(b) a final examination, that is to say, an examination of person seeking to be admitted as solicitors, which might be divided into two or more parts.

...

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