Appointment of Senior Counsel
The Authority shall establish an Advisory Committee on the grounds of Patents of Precedence at the Bar. A Patent in this context is a Patent of Precedence at the Bar which entitles a barrister to be called to the Inner Bar and use the title “Senior Counsel”. In relation to a solicitor, a Patent of Precedence at the Bar is a grant of which to a solicitor entitles him to use the title “Senior Counsel”.
The Authority is to establish an Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence. The Committee is to consist of: Chief Justice, President of the High Court; Attorney General; Chairperson of the Bar Council; President of the Law Society; and lay member of the Authority nominated by the Minister.
The Committee shall establish criteria based on the objectives specified below to be met by a legal practitioner in order to for a recommendation to be made by the Government that a Patent be granted to him or to her. The objectives are that he has, in his or her legal practice as a practitioner, displayed a degree of competence and a degree of probity appropriate to and consistent with the grant to him of a Patent,
- a capacity for advocacy;
- a capacity for specialist litigation and knowledge of an area of law and professional independence;
- that he is suitable on grounds of character and temperament;
- in possession of a tax clearance cert;
- and otherwise suitable.
A legal practitioner who wishes to be granted a Patent, may apply to the Committee for its consideration, in accordance with the above criteria, whether he or she meets the criteria established and subject to the above, its recommendation to the Government that he or she be granted a Patent.
The application is to be accompanied by such information and fee as may be prescribed. When the Committee considers an application, it shall consider whether the applicant meets the criteria and may consult in confidence with such persons as it considers appropriate.
Following consideration, the Committee shall decide whether the applicant meets the criteria and recommend to the Government that the applicant be granted a Patent, or not. The Government may, on recommendation from the Committee, in accordance with the below, revoke the grant of a Patent.
Where the High Court makes an order in relation to a legal practitioner, the Authority shall apply to the Committee for its consideration, as to whether the Patent should be granted and a recommendation to the Government, accordingly.
There is a provision for notification and making of representations by the person concerned. The Committee is to take into account, the information furnished, representations and other matters it considers relevant.
The Committee is to decide to recommend to the Government that the Patent be revoked only where satisfied, on the basis of matters above that the person no longer meets the criteria for holding a Patent of Precedence.
Where the Committee makes its decision, the person affected may appeal the decision of the Committee to the High Court within 30 days.
Right of Audience for Solicitors
The right of audience in the superior courts for solicitors is amended. A solicitor who is acting for a party in proceedings in any court has the right of audience in that court. This is so, even if he has instructed a practising barrister. The provisions apply to civil and criminal proceedings.
The circumstances in which a solicitor or barrister may appear, is a matter of agreement between the solicitor and the barrister, with the consent of the party. A solicitor who is acting as his or her assistant shall have a right of audience. The agreement regulating the right of audience is the relationship of solicitor and barrister to have due regard to the best interest of the party. It may be exercised by the solicitor or barrister or partly by the solicitor and partly by the barrister.
Where the solicitor or barrister, do not agree, the party is to determine the practitioner who is to take the lead role and the right of exercise shall be exercised on his or her behalf by the legal practitioners concerned.
Conduct of Barristers
The professional codes for barristers may not restrict barristers from taking a paid employment and as part of that employment, providing legal services to his or her employer. This may include appearing, on behalf of that employer, in court. A barrister shall not, as a condition of being on the roll, be required to provide an undertaking that he will not take up paid employment.
A legal practitioner, when appearing in the court shall not be required to wear a wig or robe of any kind, theretofore worn or other wig or robe of a ceremonial type.
An employer may not penalise or threaten penalisation against an employee for making disclosures or giving evidence of disclosure in any proceedings relating to a complaint by way of disciplinary proceedings under that legislation. Penalisation refers to any kind of adverse treatment in the context of employment. Penalisation would constitute unautomatic unfair dismissal of the employee.
Movement Between Professions
The Authority may, with the consent of the Minister, by regulation provide for the movement of persons between the profession of barrister and solicitor. It may be provided that they are exempted from an admissions requirement specified, where in the opinion of the Authority that is a necessity.
Regulations may provide that the legal practitioner shall be exempt from an admission requirement that he attend a course of training or education, pass an examination, or serve a period of apprenticeship or pupillage for a portion of such period.
Different exemptions may be applicable to different classes of legal practitioners or to different legal practitioners.
An admission requirement, is deemed unnecessary where the admission requirement is in place for the purpose of ensuring a person seeking to be admitted to one profession or the other, is in possession of particular knowledge, skills or experience, and the legal practitioner concerned is already in possession of the knowledge, skill and experience by reason of educational qualifications and training previously obtained by him in that other profession and the experience in the provision of legal services obtained by him as such.
Before making regulations, the Minister is to consult with the Law Society, Bar Council, King’s Inns, and such other institutions concerned with the legal education as they consider they should consult.
King’s Inns and the Law Society, and other relevant admission bodies are to ensure that the admission requirements are consistent with regulations made.
Advertising Legal Services
The Authority may make regulations relating to the advertising of legal services. The regulations may specify the categories of legal practitioners to whom they apply.
They may make provisions in relation to the advertisements that may be published, including provisions in relation to the manner, form, and content. They may provide information concerned, which may be published, shall be confined to specified information including
- name, address, website, telephone number, facsimile, place of business of the practitioner;
- particulars of academic or professional qualifications and legal experience;
- factual information on the legal services provided or in any areas of law to which those services relate and particulars of any charge or fee payable to the practitioner for those services.
Regulations may provide for restrictions on a practitioner making or causing to be made, unsolicited approaches to a person or group of persons with a view to being instructed to provide legal services. They may provide for the manner in which the Authority is to determine whether the particular advertisement is, has contravened the legislation.
A legal practitioner shall not publish an advertisement that is likely to bring the legal profession into disrepute, is in bad taste, reflects unfavourably another legal practitioner, is false or misleading in any respect, is published in an inappropriate location, and does not comply with regulations made above.
No professional code shall operate to prevent a group of barristers to share facility, premises or cost of practice, from advertising themselves as a group.
An advertisement is widely defined as including any communication, whether oral or written, in visual or another form, which is intended to publicise or otherwise promote a legal practitioner in relation to legal services. It includes brochures, notices, circulars, posters, photographs, articles, stationery for general publication.
It may include electronic information, presentation, lecture, seminars, interviews, audio or video training. It does not include a communication that is primarily intended to give information on the law.