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Question

8. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the date on which he expects the Legal Services Regulatory Authority to be fully operational; and when it will be regulating the legal profession. [44211/17]

Answer

Deputy Charles Flanagan: The Deputy will appreciate that the Legal Services Regulatory Authority is an independent statutory body and that I, as Minister, do not have a role in its day to day operations. That independence has been purposefully conferred on the authority by the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. I will seek to respect the independence of the body in the reply to the matter raised by the Deputy.
The setting-up of the authority has been under way since July 2016. At the time Parts 1 and 2 of the Act were commenced as necessary to have the new authority appointed and get it under way. It has convened regularly since its inaugural meeting on 26 October last year. Minutes of all its meetings are available on its website at www.lsra.ie.
In tandem with the ongoing and essential work leading to the authority starting its key complaints and regulatory functions, the authority has been deeply engaged in the conduct of public consultations and the making of five reports on a series of structural reform issues under sections 118 to 120, inclusive, of the Act which were also commenced. It has been obliged to complete these reports within strictly set deadlines running from its day of establishment on 1 October 2016.
Having delivered on this substantive programme of consultations and reports, the current working focus is very much on the managed roll-out of the authority's remaining functions. They include the matching development of its organisational capacities and office and staffing resources which are essential, as the Deputy will agree, to effective delivery. Following these steps, the key structural reforms of Part 6 of the 2015 Act relating to public complaints, professional conduct and the appointment of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal dealing with both solicitors and barristers will be commenced.
In a key development, the authority has recently completed its public recruitment of a full-time chief executive, Dr. Brian Doherty, who took office in mid-September. Having operated a modest executive office, it has recently secured larger office premises in support of the coming into operation of its respective functions. Matters are ongoing with a view to having the authority reach full capacity at the earliest opportunity.