Irish side wrote terms of legal deal

Mon, Jan 16, 2012, 00:00

GOVERNMENT departments here, not the EU-IMF-ECB, wrote the terms in the memorandum of understanding on the legal profession, according to the minister for justice who was in office when the agreement was signed.

Dermot Ahern told Parchment, the magazine of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, that the troika had “no real interest in the legal profession” and the terms of memorandum were set by the two government departments.

Mr Ahern was minister for justice, equality and law reform at the time of the bailout and the subsequent signing of the memorandum of understanding between the government and the troika.

It committed the government to implementing the recommendations of the 2006 Competition Authority report on the legal profession and later reports by two committees on legal costs.

“They [the troika] didn’t put them [the terms in the memorandum] in,” he said. “They were put in by the department of enterprise, trade and employment and the department of finance because they were promoting the Competition Authority report.

“I insisted on putting in a clause that there should be more use of alternative dispute resolution.”

Mr Ahern refused to discuss the the details of proposed Legal Services Regulation Bill, which has been brought forward by his successor Alan Shatter to meet the terms of the memorandum, although it goes beyond the Competition Authority report.

Mr Ahern said he had not read the Bill in detail.

“There’s a new minister there,” he told Parchment, “but the whole goal must take into account the changed economic circumstances where a lot of the legal profession is pulling the divil by the tail.”