This notice is intended as general guidance in relation to the subject matter and does not constitute a definitive statement of law. Reference to a solicitor includes a reference to a firm of solicitors in this context.
It is professional misconduct for a solicitor to breach the provisions of theSolicitors (Advertising) Regulations 2002.
Where a solicitor is alleged to be in breach of the regulations, the Law Society will notify the solicitor of the particulars of the alleged breach in writing and will request that the solicitor furnish an appropriate response in a timely manner to the Law Society under regulation 15(b). The Law Society may request the solicitor to appear for interview before the Regulation of Practice Committee, which deals, among other things, with advertising regulations matters, at which the alleged breaches will be considered under regulation 15(c). A solicitor may further be requested to attend before the committee in circumstances where it appears to the Law Society that the solicitor is refusing, neglecting, or otherwise failing without reasonable cause to respond appropriately in a timely manner to the Law Society under regulation 15(d). The solicitor may be accompanied to a committee meeting by another solicitor and/or counsel.
In the event that the solicitor refuses, neglects, or otherwise fails, without reasonable cause, to attend a committee meeting, the Law Society may apply to the High Court for an order compelling the solicitor’s attendance at such meeting under regulation 15(e).
The solicitor will be requested to provide the Law Society with any additional documentation that is considered relevant to the matter, on or before a specified date, to afford the committee sufficient time to consider the documentation before the meeting. In the event that the Law Society considers it necessary, the Law Society may compel the production of documentation pertinent to the investigation of the alleged breaches under regulation 15(f).
The committee will consider whether there have been any breaches of the regulations, having regard to any written submissions made in the course of the Law Society’s investigation and any further submissions the solicitor may make at the meeting.
In the event that the committee forms the opinion that there have been breaches of the regulations, it may take action including the following:
- Where a determination is made that the solicitor has, in the course of the investigation, refused, neglected or otherwise failed, without reasonable cause, to respond appropriately in a timely manner or at all to the Law Society’s correspondence and costs have been incurred in connection therewith, require a payment of a sum up to €3,000 as a contribution to the Law Society’s costs in accordance with regulation 15(g)(i).
- The committee may issue the solicitor with a reprimand in writing in such terms as the Law Society deems appropriate and reasonable in accordance with regulation 15(g)(ii), including the length of time such reprimand remain on the solicitor’s record. It should be noted that reprimands are a matter of public record. A solicitor with a reprimand will be unable to obtain a certificate of good standing from the Society for the duration of the reprimand, and will instead be provided with a certificate of standing from the Society that discloses the reprimand.
- The committee may require an undertaking in writing that the solicitor will forthwith desist from such breaches or alleged breaches and will not repeat any of them in future, in accordance with regulation 15(h).
- The committee may direct that an application be made to the High Court in accordance with section 58 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 to suspend the solicitor’s current practising certificate.
- The committee may give the registrar a direction in relation to the solicitor’s practising certificate in accordance with section 59 of theSolicitors (Amendment) Act 1994, including the imposition of conditions on the solicitor’s current practising certificate.
- Where the committee is of the opinion that the breach of the regulations is sufficiently serious, it may under regulation 15(g)(iii), in lieu of a contribution to costs and reprimand, refer the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for an inquiry into the solicitor’s conduct on the grounds of alleged misconduct, pursuant to section 7(1) of theSolicitors (Amendment) Act 1960 as substituted by section 17 of theSolicitors (Amendment) Act 1994.
It should be noted that, pursuant to regulation 15(i), the Law Society shall be entitled to publish to the solicitors’ profession, in whatever manner the Law Society deems appropriate, the fact of the imposition of a penalty by the Law Society under regulation 15(g)(i) and (ii), subject to the outcome of any appeal and any order made by the High Court under section 11(1) of theSolicitors (Amendment) Act 1994.
Jack Kennedy is the Law Society’s advertising regulations executive and is contactable at 01 672 4800 or email@example.com.
Registrar of Solicitors
and Director of Regulation