Bar on the defensive

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 01:08

Sir, – Your Editorial (December 19th) on the reform of legal services appears to confuse two distinct concepts, namely legal partnerships, and multi-disciplinary practices.

The former involves solicitors and barristers adopting new business structures such as chambers or solicitor/barrister partnerships; the latter involves the introduction of other professionals, such as accountants. Both would necessitate the removal of the current rule that barristers may only operate as sole traders.

Your Editorial appears to suggest there is universal disapproval of both legal partnerships and multi-disciplinary practices, and, by implication, that there is universal support for the “sole trader” requirement. This is not so. The Irish model, with its strict demarcation between barristers and solicitors and its insistence on the “sole trader” requirement, is very much at odds with the English system and with civil law jurisdictions.

Whatever the pros and cons of multi-disciplinary practices, the proposal that barristers be allowed form chambers is a very modest one, and was recommended by the Competition Authority as long ago as December 2006. It would be a shame if possible concerns about multi-disciplinary practices were to delay further the implementation of the Competition Authority’s report, as endorsed by the troika’s Memorandum of Understanding. – Yours, etc,

GARRETT SIMONS, SC,

Law Library Buildings,

Church Street, Dublin 7.