In Short


A round-up of today's other law stories, in brief ...

FLAC calls on Government and social partners to improve regulation of mortgage lenders

FLAC (free legal advice centres), the legal rights campaigning group, has called on the Government and the social partners to commit to a more thorough and public scrutiny of what it calls a currently very narrow draft code to regulate the conduct of mortgage lenders. This is too narrowly focused for those who are currently in financial difficulty, it warns.

In a letter to the Financial Regulator, FLAC has raised questions about the codes failure to address how to deal with those who are in arrears and who are in negative equity. FLAC stressed that the code overlooks several aspects of mortgage arrears and focuses only on involuntary repossessions, ignoring the fact that many people who are badly in arrears are trying to end the relationship with their lender in a civilised way and may wish to hand over the mortgaged property voluntarily.

There is no guidance in the draft we have seen as to when a house should be valued, or whether lenders can continue to pursue those who hand their houses back for balances that they say are outstanding. This is what many people are now desperately trying to find out, and there is nothing in the draft code to handle this situation, FLACs senior policy researcher, Paul Joyce, said.

The organisation also questions how the code will provide for effective investigations and sanctions in case of breach. FLAC is also critical of the lack of detailed information to be given to borrowers on the many costs and fees that a borrower may incur at the time of repossession.

The regulator is due to introduce this limited code at the end of the month, added Mr Joyce. We need to make sure it covers areas of concern to borrowers and not just banks. Social partners, in their current discussions, should reserve the right to debate the code further – in consultation with the public and with legislators – as in its current form it will not be sufficiently clear or strong enough to protect consumers adequately.

Women Lawyers discuss rights of child

The Irish Women Lawyers Association is holding a conference on the proposed Constitutional Amendment on the Rights of the Child in The Green Room, Law Society, Blackhall Place, Dublin on February 28th, 2009 from 9.15am to 1.30pm. The conference is interdisciplinary and will focus on the current hiatus in existing child protection.

Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness will chair the event. The speakers will include Mary ORourke, chairwoman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Children’s Amendment; Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children; Supt Colette Quinn, garda with responsibility for the Diversion Programme; Mary Hough, director of Sligo Education Centre and senior trainer with its child protection programme; and Felix McEnroy SC.

The conference costs €30 for IWLA members (membership available on the morning), €30 for barristers/ solicitors of fewer than five years practice, €60 for non-members and €10 for NGOs. Three CPD points are available.

To book phone Eithne O’Doherty on 01-817 6915 or e-mail

Looking East

The Irish Institute for European Affairs will hold a round table meeting of the European Neighbourhood Policy group on the topic of the Joint Proposal by Poland and Sweden for an Eastern Partnership, on Monday, February 16th at 12.45pm in its office in North Great George’s Street. The meeting will be addressed by Jaroslaw Bratkiewicz, director of the Eastern Policy Department at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Swedens Ambassador to Ireland Claes Ljungdahl.

Poland and Sweden together presented a joint proposal for an “Eastern Partnership” between the EU and its eastern neighbours in May 2008, envisaging deeper cooperation between the EU and the six former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus.

Advertising seminar

A breakfast seminar hosted by the Technology and Intellectual Property Unit of Beauchamps Solicitors will take place tomorrow, at 8am on the topic, Advertising Campaigns – Beware of the Legal Minefield!

The speakers will be Ed McDonald, chief executive of the Association of Advertisers in Ireland; Maureen Daly, partner and head of technology and intellectual property in Beauchamps Solicitors and Niall OBrien, also a partner in Beauchamps.

It will take place in their offices in Sir John Rogersons Quay, Dublin 2.

Finucane conference

The conference to commemorate the life and work, and the 20th anniversary of the death, of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane will take place in Trinity College Dublin next weekend, organised by British-Irish Rights Watch.

It will start with the recollections of his wife, Geraldine, and this will be followed by a series of lectures and discussions on issues of policing, detention and prisoners’ rights, inquests and the intimidation of lawyers, and collusion.

A football match will be played in his honour on February 15th at 11am in the Trinity College Park, to recall the fact that he captained the Trinity college football team for two years.

There is a fee of €115 (concessions €25) to attend. To register, contact Finucane Conference, BIRW, 13b Hillgate Place, London SQ12 9ES, UK or