The Irish Legal Services Regulation Bill cleared the Dail last week and will now head to the Seanad. This is in some respect's Ireland's Legal Services Act as it introduces a new oversight body, the Legal Service Regulatory Authority and also allows Alternative Business Models. However, the Irish parliament is being more cautious about the scope and timing.
These developments in Ireland are fascinating for a number of reasons. Particularly, what lessons the Irish will take from the regulatory petrie dish that is England and Wales.
· In recognition of the fact that MDPs are still being rolled out in other jurisdictions, provision will now be made to conduct detailed research on the likely effects which their introduction may have on competition, on the Irish legal services market and in relation to the legal professions. The findings of this research on MDPs will then inform the six-month public consultation process already envisaged under the Bill. The commencement of the provisions governing MDPs will then become a matter for the Minister following these processes, on foot of their outcomes and recommendations.