Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 (Complaints and Client Relations Committee, Conduct) Regulations 2019

 
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Notice of the making of this Statutory Instrument was published in

“Iris Oifigiúil” of 24th September, 2019.

THE LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND, in exercise of the powers conferred on them by Sections 5 and 71 of the Solicitors Act 1954 (as amended) HEREBY MAKES the following Regulations regulating procedure in relation to investigations by the Society under Section 6A of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1960 , as inserted by Section 36 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 .

Part 1 – Preliminary

1. (a) These Regulations may be cited as Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 (Complaints and Client Relations Committee, Conduct) Regulations 2019.

(b) These Regulations shall come into operation on the first day of October 2019.

2. (a) In these Regulations -

“Act of 1994” means the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 (No. 27 of 1994), as amended from time to time;

“Acts” means the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015;

“Council” means the Council of the Society;

“Committee” means the Complaints and Client Relations Committee;

“Complaints and Client Relations Committee” means the Committee of the Council of the Law Society to which, inter alia, responsibility for the investigation of complaints against solicitors has been delegated by the Council;

“investigating officer” means any executive officer in the Complaints Section of the Society;

“Society” means the Law Society of Ireland.

(b) Other words and phrases in these Regulations shall have the meaning assigned to them in the Acts.

(c) In these Regulations, unless the context otherwise requires, the singular includes the plural.

3. These Regulations shall be applied so as to be in conformity with the Acts and in the event of there being an apparent conflict between these Regulations and any provision or provisions of the Acts these Regulations shall be construed so as to be in conformity with the provision or provisions of the Acts.

4. These Regulations shall be construed so as to be in conformity with any delegation of power as may be made from time to time in accordance with the Acts and any Regulations made thereunder and, in particular, by the Council to the Committee and by the Committee to senior officers of the Society including senior officers in the Complaints Section of the Society.

5. These Regulations are made without prejudice generally to the provisions of the Acts.

Part 2 – Management of a complaint

6. The Society has the power to investigate alleged misconduct whether or not the Society receive a complaint in relation to the solicitor.

7. Where a complaint is received, that complaint shall:

(a) be in writing;

(b) be signed by or on behalf of the complainant;

(c) provide the address of the complainant;

(d) provide a current postal address for correspondence with the complainant or designated representative, if different to (c).

8. An investigating officer may decide on the admissibility of the complaint.

9. An investigating officer shall:

(a) manage the investigation;

(b) keep the solicitor and complainant (if applicable) informed by correspondence of the progress of the investigation;

(c) furnish all relevant correspondence and documentation to the solicitor and to the complainant (if applicable);

(d) inform the complainant (if applicable) and the solicitor of the statutory powers of the Society, as set out in Appendix 1 to these Regulations, in the investigation;

(e) require the solicitor to provide his/her comments and explanations within a specified time.

10. The Society may:

(a) require the solicitor, without prejudice to any of the powers of the Society pursuant to the Acts including Section 10(A)(1) of the Act of 1994, to provide a response to the Society in a timely manner;

(b) require the solicitor, without prejudice to any of the powers of the Society pursuant to the Acts including Section 10 and Section 14 of the Act of 1994, to produce relevant documentation.

11. Failure by the solicitor to respond to the Society or comply with its requirements in the investigation, without reasonable cause, may amount to a conduct issue.

12. An investigating officer may:

(a) monitor the progress of the investigation;

(b) reject the complaint;

(c) make recommendations to the parties concerned with a view to resolving the complaint;

(d) refer the matter to the Committee where appropriate or necessary;

(e) assist the Committee as required.

Part 3 – Committee meetings

13. Where the Committee is investigating conduct on the part of a solicitor:

(a) the Society shall notify the solicitor and the complainant (if applicable) of the date and time of any meeting of the Committee at which the matter will be considered, the purpose of the meeting, the matters to be considered at the meeting, and the steps which may be taken by the Committee;

(b) the Society shall notify the solicitor that the matter is being investigated as a matter of alleged misconduct;

(c) a solicitor is entitled to attend any meeting referred to at (a) above;

(d) the Society may require a solicitor to attend a meeting of the Committee and in the event that it is necessary, may invoke its powers pursuant to Section 10(A)(1) of the Act of 1994;

(e) failure by the solicitor to attend a meeting of the Committee when required to do so without reasonable cause may amount to a conduct issue.

14. A solicitor and a complainant (if applicable) may submit written submissions for consideration by the Committee on or before such date in advance of the meeting as may be specified by the Society.

15. Where a solicitor requests an adjournment of the Committee’s consideration of the matter:

(a) in all cases, the solicitor shall give reasonable notice in writing to the Society showing good and sufficient reason;

(b) in all cases where there are medical grounds the request should be accompanied by medical evidence and the request may be refused in the absence of such medical evidence;

(c) an adjournment request may be approved in advance of a meeting of the Committee by the Chairman of the Committee or his/her nominee.

16. If a solicitor does not, without reasonable explanation:

(a) appear before the Committee when required to do so; and/or

(b) provide a response to any allegations within the time specified by the Committee;

and in the absence of an adjournment having been granted, the Committee may deal with the matter in his/her absence on the basis of the documents already furnished and information available to the Society and in accordance with these Regulations and the Acts.

17. The Committee may seek legal opinion in relation to the investigation of a particular matter. Where it does so it shall disclose such opinion to the solicitor and afford the solicitor an opportunity to make submissions in response to such opinion before making a...

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